SAZ Café

The recent re-emergence of the once-bustling restaurant & hospitality industry in India, albeit cautious, is thought to show positive signs of sustenance and even possible growth. A beacon for such resurgence can be noticed in the recent inauguration of 3 dining destinations in Mumbai that not just deliver bespoke culinary experiences but also equally unique aural experiences – all within the same property confines.

Nestled away in a rather inconspicuous corner of Mumbai’s bustling Kamala Mills area in Lower Parel are three brand new dining destinations: PCO—a speakeasy-themed lounge-bar, Saz Cafe – an American brasserie, and Ping’s Cafe Orient – an Asian restaurant; all of which cater to their own distinct niche, but are situated next to each other within the same property confines. The three venues have been launched by Pass Code Hospitality – run by brother-sister duo of Rakshay and Radhika Dhariwal, who aspire to encourage “discovery” among diners. This can most definitely be viewed as a novel thought that clearly goes beyond the usual promoter motivations of offering the standard ‘great night out with good food’; adding further intrigue to the fact that these restaurants are the company’s first lot to open in Mumbai, even though they’ve spent a good 10 years in the food business with nine other restaurants across India.

“We know these brands like the back of our hand, so opening three was not any less or more difficult than launching one at a time. As long as the fundamentals are in place, we are good to go. Besides we have done this before when Ping and Jamun launched together in Goa in 2020. It’s a format we like,” revealed Radhika to media source Vogue before the official launch of the three venues. In the same interview, Rakshay informs that they first mulled on the idea of opening these outposts in Bengaluru and Hyderabad before settling on the financial capital of India, as he quoted, “Mumbai has always been ready for us, we were just looking for a more opportune time. And the dip in real estate prices made this possible.”

While all three restaurants are housed within the same property; each one sports a unique design and ambience – not just in terms of its culinary offerings and interiors, but also the aural experience that diners are treated to. Each of the individual venues sports a carefully crafted, dedicated pro audio system architecture from industry leaders Harman Professional, which has been designed and commissioned by Mumbai based system integration outfit – Integrated System Design. The individual systems feature a thoughtful mix of products from Harman Professional’s portfolio, with loudspeakers from JBL, amplification from Crown and system control from BSS.

“We worked on the client’s vision for the spaces to exude a relaxing vibe with a superior music ambience that would be enjoyable yet non-intrusive – neither visually nor aurally – thereby allowing patrons to enjoy the great spread of cocktails and food with some hearty conversations. However, with all three venues sporting a unique ambience, it became imperative for us to devise and design tailored systems that would precisely meet the listening focus of each space. While one of the venues looked to offer a more upbeat music experience, the others wanted to have a more subtle and ambient musicscape. Additionally, since the three restaurants are co-located within the same property, we invested a good amount of time and effort in commissioning a detailed analysis of each space to figure out the right speaker system, along with accurate speaker placement points and precise system tuning measures. This exercise was critical for us to ensure that the system at each venue offered the desired music listening experience, while ensuring no spillage of sound outside of each designated restaurant” explains Integrated System Design’s Director of Sales, Malay Jhaverri, as he affords an insight into the approach taken by the integration team in designing and commissioning the loudspeaker systems for each of the restaurants.

PCO: PCO (Pass Code Only) occupies approximately 2357sq ft of alfresco space, and is touted to be the only dedicated cocktail-forward bar in the city. The venue is clearly inspired by the modern day speakeasies of New York City, so much so that the owners assert it will always stay true to its original form and not turn into a club as the night wears on – like most other theme-bars have in the past. This factor, of course, played a key role in the sound system design for the space, as Malay informs, “The conceptual music schedule here was for a relatively upbeat jazz music playlist that would progress as the night wore on; but definitely at volume levels far lower than what’s traditionally observed at theme-bars in India. After viewing the analysis report of the space and taking into consideration the exact position of the bar area and the seating configuration, we realized that the space needed loudspeakers that were rugged enough to withstand the elements, and at the same time could offer greater dispersion and coverage while maintaining optimum frequency response – two aspects that are critical to ensuring that every seat enjoys a uniform listening experience. Knowing full-well that the sound had to be impactful as well, we decided to deploy the Control 29AV-1 surface mount loudspeakers from JBL’s Control Contractor Series which allowed us to leverage its wide coverage range of 110° to cover more space efficiently, with its extended bandwidth and smooth frequency response making it perfect to efficiently reproduce the variety of music that the venue desired to offer. We’ve also deployed AC115s subwoofers from JBL’s Application Engineering Series to provide solid low-frequency fidelity; and this decision worked great as it greatly eased the task of matching the frequency response of the subs with the speakers to offer a naturally smooth and uniform sound experience.”

SAZ Café: With its name inspired by New Orleans’ classic cocktail, Sazerac – SAZ Café is quite similar to PCO in its alfresco seating; with the relatively smaller all-day dining kitchen & cocktail bar exuding an ambience that blends the charm of a New Orleans courtyard with the chic of a modern NYC diner. The calm and chilled-out vibe of the space has greatly influenced the music experience, with the venue choosing to focus on lighter genres such as soft rock and down-tempo electronic. The music delivery is made possible through a concise loudspeaker system comprising Control 28 high-output indoor/outdoor loudspeakers from JBL’s Control Contractor Series that offer 90° x 90° coverage with 92dB SPL. According to Malay, these two key offerings from the Control 28 loudspeakers made them the perfect fit for the team to match with the Control SB2210 compact dual 10” subwoofers from JBL to provide consistent full-range fidelity while maintaining the same tonal signature in efficiently meeting the music reinforcement needs of the venue.

Pings Café Orient: By far the smallest space of the lot, Pings Café Orient has been designed to be an intimate indoor family dining space where patrons can enjoy a variety of cocktails and oriental cuisine with light ambient music. Owing to the rather modest size of the room, the integration team decided to commission the space with the unobtrusive Control 50 Series subwoofer-satellite surface-mount loudspeaker system to offer full-range high fidelity background music. Malay explains that placement of the satellite speakers at the accurate height allowed to achieve the desired dispersion in a manner that engulfed the entire seating section with pristine sound.

“The decision to have the loudspeakers at all three venues powered via amplification from Crown and controlled through Soundweb London BLU-100 signal processors with BLU Link, gave us the leeway to deploy a more efficient cabling scheme for each of the individual systems, and maintain consistent low-latency high-quality output at each venue. Additionally, we’ve ensured easy and quick centralized control of volume levels and signal source switching of all the individual systems through the use of a Soundweb London BLU-100 signal processor paired with a Soundweb Contrio EC-8BV Ethernet wall controller. Having these provisions in place has not just helped us keep overall system costs within the client’s desired budget, but has also enabled us to design and deliver a neat and efficient system architecture for each venue that’s super-easy to use and maintain.”

Affirming the client’s approval and satisfaction with the audio architecture at each of the three restaurants, Malay affirms that the simple and honest concept of keeping the venues true to their respective original vision has already won over dedicated patronage for each of the spaces, with several compliments from diners about the pleasing soundscape and music experience; as he comments, “It’s really great to know how well the venues have been doing; especially considering the fact that they just launched recently on 17th December 2021. And it’s especially refreshing to have compliments come in about the quality of the sound experience, especially considering the fact that the spaces have been consciously designed to not be music intensive or double up as a party space for late evenings!”

Harman Professional