Leopold Cafe may open Goa branch

ECONOMIC TIMES, MUMBAI | 14 September 2013 19:10 IST

Leopold Cafe in Mumbai's fashionable Colaba district is expanding, in what its owners say underscores the city's indomitable spirit, possibly in Goa.

The 142-year-old bar and restaurant, a popular haunt for foreign tourists and backpackers for years, and more recently in the news for being a key target of a terrorist attack in 2008, could see a new outlet in suburban Mumbai or Goa, according to its Iranian owners, the Jehani family.

"It could take at least a year or more for another Leopold, but it is in the offing," said Farhang Jehani, who along with his brother Farzad manages the day-to-day working of the cafe.

Leopold, popularly known as 'Leo's', is open from 8 am till midnight, and attracts a motley crowd of foreigners, office-goers, students and also the "just curious." Business has grown about 30% over the last five years, Jehani said.

The hangout, which opened just five days after a terrorist attack on the cafe and several other city landmarks in November 2008, is part of a Bollywood film— Farzad has a role in it—and finds mention in Gregory David Roberts' novel 'Shantaram', which paints a vivid picture of life in Mumbai, earlier Bombay.

Jehani said offers for partnership have been pouring in ever since.

The owners are also considering Goa, given its popularity among foreign tourists.

"The type of crowd that comes to Goa is very familiar with the name 'Leopold'," Jehani said. Clients, too, appear enthused.


"We have been approached by many people to open franchise all over the world. But we never accepted it, as all our time and effort have been dedicated to this cafe," he said.

The Jehani brothers, who run Leopold in partnership with their cousins, are yet to decide on the ownership pattern of the new outlets. "We have not decided on the ownership, but I could do it with my brother or with the other partners, if they would like to join us and work as a team," Jehani said.

On where the new eatery could be expected, he said, "Somewhere in the suburbs like Bandra or Andheri-Lokhandwala, as a lot of movement of offices towards that side has transformed it into one of the most happening places in town."

"I can understand and support the brand 'Leopold' because I know how their service is and how they treat me," said Nick Aldridge, a photographer from Cape Town, over a cup of Leo's coffee. "Now wherever they open, I can visit them without thinking twice."

According to Jehani, Leopold receives a lot of tourists who want to see the bullet-marked walls and glass panels that the owners decided not to repair.

"History has been created here and many people who know of Leopold and get an opportunity to come, want to see the bullet holes," he said, adding that Leopold's guest list includes Hollywood stars Gerard Butler, Josh Brolin and Adam Rodriguez.

Another 'A'-list guest at the cafe is Australian author Gregory David Roberts who, according to Jehani, readily signs copies of 'Shantaram' for his fans.

Original Report

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