Japanese curry house operator Ichibanya opens 1st restaurant in India

04, Aug. 2020

Customers are entering the first CoCo Ichibanya outlet in Gurgaon on Aug. 3, 2020. (NNA)
Customers are entering the first CoCo Ichibanya outlet in Gurgaon on Aug. 3, 2020. (NNA)

NEW DELHI, NNA – A local affiliate of Japanese curry house operator Ichibanya Co. has opened its first outlet in the world’s curry hotspot India on expectations that demand for restaurant dining will recover after the global COVID-19 pandemic, the company said Monday.

The chain’s first India-based Curry House CoCo Ichibanya opened in the outskirts of New Delhi on Monday to serve a Japanese-style version of the sauces that are essential to Indian cuisine.

The curry flavors at CoCo Ichibanya in India resemble those served in Japan, company spokeswoman Aki Matsui told NNA by email.

The restaurant is run by Ichibanya India Pvt. Ltd., which the Japanese operator established jointly last year with major trading house Mitsui & Co. Mitsui holds a 60 percent stake in the joint venture and the rest by Ichibanya. The venture is capitalized at 187.5 million rupees ($2.5 million).

The outlet, housed in the DLF Cyber Hub commercial complex in Gurgaon, focuses on takeout and delivery, as many people avoid going out amid the pandemic. The restaurant is using just half its 60 seats to guard against spread of the virus, Tamotsu Nomura, the head of retail business unit at Mitsui & Co. India, told NNA by email.

Ichibanya India had initially planned to open its outlet in the spring of 2020 but delayed the launch because of a government-ordered lockdown on March 25.

Nomura said the eatery mainly targets urban office workers in their 30s.

The restaurant serves 40 kinds of curry plus salads and drinks. Meal prices range from 350 rupees to 520 rupees. It imports curry sauce without meat, fish or other animal-derived ingredients while locally sourcing other foods, Matsui said.

Ichibanya India will consider opening more outlets in India depending on how Covid-19 evolves, Nomura said.

“The situation of the entire restaurant industry is extremely serious because many people are refraining from eating out due to the spread of the coronavirus,” Nomura said. “However, if an anti-coronavirus vaccine is developed and social situation returns to normal, I think eateries will gradually regain customers.”

Ichibanya operates 186 outlets in 12 countries and regions overseas, including India.

Fellow Japanese restaurant chains Yoshinoya Holdings Co. and Zensho Holdings Co. opened outlets near India’s capital in 2018 and 2020, respectively.