The tireless husband-wife duo of AD Singh and Sabina Singh not only kicked off the fine dining revolution in India, but are also managing to keep it fresh and relevant two decades later. By Adila Matra
Since its inception, with the launch of Olive Bar & Kitchen in Bandra, Mumbai, in 2000, the Olive Group of Restaurants has expanded to 37 restaurants across eight brands and six cities in India. The founder, AD Singh, and the head of design, Sabina Singh, are partners in both personal and professional life. And it is this partnership that makes the group such a significant player even after 20 years.
“I started out at a time when there were very few cool things for people like us,” reminisces AD Singh about the late 1980s. “I had no background in business, but there was a huge opportunity in the market. I had strong concepts, and we executed them well,” adds the 60-year-old entrepreneur. The seeds for Olive Bar & Kitchen were sown during one of Singh’s travels in the 90s. “I was holidaying in Phuket. Every day, I used to visit a specific restaurant. I liked the lazy vibe of it, and I thought this is something Mumbai could do with,” he says. The unique design of Olive was brought to life by his wife, Sabina Singh. “In the late 90s, AD and I travelled to many beach bars. When Olive was conceived in 1999, we talked about all these concepts with architect Nozer Wadia. He came up with the minimalist whitewashed look. And I took forward this legacy,” she says.
Their Parsi-food restaurant, SodaBottleOpenerwala, brings forth the flavours of an Irani cafe in both decor and menu. Lady Baga is modelled on a Goan beach shack and serves delicacies such as butter garlic prawns and chorizos. Guppy, the Japanese restaurant that serves AD’s favourite dish, salmon tartare, features neon signs and courtyard seating.
So, what’s next for the Olive Group? “We’re opening an Olive in Kolkata, and a branch extension in Delhi-NCR. We are also getting enquiries from neighbouring countries like UAE,” says Singh. Looks like these tastemakers have a busy year ahead. And we at Travel + Leisure India & South Asia will only make it busier, as we bring you their industry insights through 2022.