Where's the screening tonight?
As the mercury soars in the Capital, cricket frenzy appears to be peaking as well. Bang in the middle of the Indian Premier League (IPL), food and hospitality establishments are dishing out special menus with the sporting fan in mind. With the matches going to the wire, there's nothing better than cheering for your favourite IPL team sitting with your buddies with a mug of cold beer in the hand.
Although there's a school of sports fans that still swears by enjoying the action from the comfort of their living rooms, a growing legion of Delhi's sports lovers likes to head to a sports bar or restaurant that hosts live screenings of sporting action on giant screens.
"What makes IPL screenings at a sports bar special vis-à-vis watching sports at home is the banter," says Anuj Bhargava, a 42-year-old white goods entrepreneur. "I've been coming for Formula One (F1)screenings with my friends to Pebble Street for more than a decade now. And even today, it is the destination we prefer when it comes to sports screenings," he adds.
Beginning to screen live F1 races at their New Friends Colony outlet at the turn of the century, Pebble Street is one of the best known sports bars in the Capital.
"Ever since we began screening F1 races, in 2000, we realised Delhi's fans have an enormous appetite for watching sports with like-minded fans over mugs of beer and eats. So, apart from the IPL season and the World Cup, we take our sport seriously and make sure we have screenings held through the year," says Ashish Ahuja, Director, Pebble Street.
Ahuja says sports bars go the extra yard during marquee events such as the IPL and the cricket and football World Cups to sweeten the deal for sports fans with enticing offers on food and spirits. Boasting an impressive collection of draught beers available on tap, Pebble Street is offering pitcher promotions on wheat beer, lager, and international brands such as Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Erdinger and White Rhino this season.
Offering packages during the IPL makes business sense for restaurant chains, too, says Shraddha Motipara, Marketing Head, The Irish House.
"We have even customised our menu and packages based on cricketing parlance such as fours and sixes. So, in our DIY platter at the Nehru Place and Noida outlets, you can pick four or six veg appetisers for a reasonable price."
With boisterous fans, special menus and deals on spirits, what else does the cricket connoisseur need? Good-quality speakers that help fans enjoy key moments such as caught behind and run out replays. Inconsistent sound, wrong screen placement and dingy projectors can take the joy out of the best of matches.
So, restaurants are investing in large screens, deep-contrast projectors and high-luminosity screens.
"Our seating is such that every person present at The Irish House is facing either a TV or a giant screen," says Motipara of The Irish House.
With bars and restaurants lining up special discounts during the IPL, the cricket world up in May and Wimbledon in June, it appears to be one long summer party for the Capital's sports fans.
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