Because South Mumbai Has Life In It Yet

January 2, 2012 8:05 am by

Colaba is home to some of the city's best restaurants. Photo: Sheena Dabholkar.

Ever since Bandra, then Juhu and Andheri supplanted South Mumbai as the new “in” neighbourhood to live and party in, people have been prophesising the end of “town”. The island city, with sky-high rentals and absurd living costs, could only house the very rich or landed. In short, its glamourous Art Deco building-lined southern tip, it was predicted, “will be a tourist and retirement destination.” Except it might be too soon to be sounding the death knell.

After years of remaining impassive witnesses to the spurt of growth in Bandra, South Mumbai is finally seeing a revival. Restaurants, boutiques, and galleries are opening at a near-weekly pace, while residents, both local and expats, are staying put even while their offices move northwards.

Restauranteurs, even those who go to Bandra or Lower Parel first, are beginning to cast an eye at South Mumbai’s tony crowd with money-glazed eyes. “There are only a handful of European restaurants, no real Italian restaurants, and only one Chinese restaurant so there’s still enough of a market which could easily sustain more fine-dining restaurants,” says one South Mumbai restauranteur looking to set up his second venture in the neighbourhood. “In the past, there weren’t too many dining options for residents of South Mumbai, but now with so many new restaurants opening up, we see a lot of people staying back to dine here.”

To wit: many of 2011’s best new restaurants, from The Table to Le Pain Quotidien to Suzette, are based in South Mumbai. Kala Ghoda, with its historic neo Gothic architecture, has similarly gone through a minor revival, with SabyasachiKitschFilter and Galerie Isa opening their doors in the last one year. Many expats still prefer the leafy, bustling and comparatively affordable confines of Colaba to set up base. South Mumbai may not yet have an I. M. Pei-designed building, an IMAX dome or a Kiehl’s, but let’s not forget it’s still home to “old” Cuffe Parade. Even real estate developers realise that. Why else would they be luring people north with the promise of recreating the South?

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