A well-known figure in the restaurant business, AD Singh has been at the forefront of the Indian hospitality industry for the last 28 years. Since 1990 he has encouraged the growth of the ‘standalone’ restaurant concept in India, giving it direction, confidence, leadership and definition.
Born in Delhi in 1960, AD moved to Mumbai at a young age, attending the well-known Cathedral and John Connon School. Soon after college, a scholarship at Lafayette took him to Pennsylvania to earn a degree that got him into the blue-chip companies TCS and Cadbury’s on his return to India.
But AD wanted more. He discarded his suit and tie to spend a year with various NGOs, and wrote a weekly food column for The Metropolis - a part of The Times Group – in the 1990s. It was only in 1988 that he found his true calling when he organised a party on a barge to celebrate his sister's wedding. The party was a huge success, and AD set up his first F&B venture, a boat party planning service he called Party Lines.
AD’s emphasis on hard work, great design, innovation, investment in people, service and product quality, and customer delight, has been the trademark of his success. Well-spoken, kind, and inquisitive, AD Singh has always understood the importance of building long-standing relationships with his partners. He has provided a professional platform to many of his protégés and chefs, launching them to become the industry’s next rising stars. Their achievements are a testament to his own success as a nurturer of brands and people.
AD has always launched sharply detailed and carefully conceptualised restaurants. His limitations in formal training and financial backing led him to rely heavily on creativity, ideas, and his gut when it came to building his brands.
AD made his restaurant business debut in 1990 with Just Desserts, a jazz café that served only coffee and desserts. Immensely successful and filling a huge void in the casual dining space, the restaurant was described by India Today as the ‘phenomenon of the nineties’.
In the year 2000, Union Park in Bandra was a sleepy neighbourhood, except for a somewhat persistent hammering behind closed blue doors. When AD opened Olive, he changed the way that Bombay perceived the suburbs, and introduced the city to Mediterranean cuisine, complete with a lazy and timeless dining experience.
In 2003, AD opened The Olive Bar and Kitchen in New Delhi, which was honoured among the ‘best new restaurants in the world’ by Condé Nast Traveler. Soon, Olive became one of the most popular and best-loved restaurant brands in the country, winning numerous awards and accolades across Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru – where, in 2005, AD opened Olive Beach in a quaint bungalow.
In 2018, the much awaited (for 17 years) Olive Bar and Kitchen launched in an alfresco space situated on the stunning Vagator beach of North Goa, with a casual, rustic ambience of signature all-white walls overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Olive Bistro embodies the spirit of Olive in a more affordable and casual avatar. In 2013, Olive Bistro opened in Hyderabad, and two years later in Goregaon, Mumbai.
Almost two decades later, Olive has become legendary in restaurant circles; and despite a voracious reading habit, a fondness for jazz and sports, and a love for the finer things in life, AD has launched 15 restaurant brands throughout the country. He is credited with many ‘firsts’ in the Indian restaurant scene. Bombay’s first floating bar - Suzy Wong, India’s first gastropub - Monkey Bar, Olive - the country’s first truly standalone restaurant, and Guppy - one of India’s first Japanese restaurants.
Some of AD’s recent successes include SodaBottleOpenerWala – a Bombay Irani Café & Bar that serves typical Parsi and Irani specialties and pearls from the streets of Bombay and it's old-world clubs. Ek Bar in Delhi - a new Indian cocktail bar serving a fresh, regionally-inspired modern menu and award-winning innovative cocktails. Olly at DLF CyberHub, Gurugram - Olive’s new all-day café. Here, freshly roasted coffee, bespoke drinks and honest food blend with a laid-back vibe. The Hoppery, Hyderabad - The Olive Group’s first microbrewery; nestled between lush foliage, boasting a gorgeous lake view, with seating spread across a quaint glasshouse, an alfresco space and a wooden deck.
Other notable names under the Olive umbrella are Lady Baga - the Goan Beach Shack in Mumbai, The Grammar Room - an all-day cafe borne out of a mutual love for grammar, food and coffee, The Fatty Bao - an Asian gastro-bar, and the East Village, NYC inspired and gastronomically curious - Toast and Tonic.
Every restaurant of the Olive Group is known for its unique design, and Ms. Sabina Singh is the creative mind behind it all, powering the brand’s success. Sabina imbibes each restaurant with its own thematic soul, influencing its vibe and personality. Preferring the hands-on approach, she works closely with architects to bring her concepts to life. Sabina derives a lot of inspiration from her travels across the world and is constantly evolving her aesthetic philosophy.
Most recently, together with Interior and Product Designer Shweta Kaushik, Sabina was instrumental in refreshing the decor and design of Olive Bar & Kitchen for its 17th anniversary. She installed a full kitchen garden, created a pickle bar where the Chef could interact with customers, and entirely revamped the bar and surrounding space, making it more relevant to current audiences. All while maintaining Olive Bar & Kitchen's familiar and comfortable boho-chic vibe.
For SodaBottleOpenerWala – a Bombay Irani café & bar, Sabina was tasked with re-creating and preserving the fading charm of an iconic culture.
Delving deep into the unique world of the Irani café and its nuances, Sabina worked with Architect Clement DeSylva to manifest her ideas into reality. Today, SodaBottleOpenerWala is one of the most successful concept restaurants in the country.
Perched atop a cliff, overlooking the gorgeous Vagator beach, Olive's latest avatar blends in with the blissful vibe of the scenic landscape. Sabina's vision for Olive Bar and Kitchen, Goa was to create an alfresco space with the casual, rustic ambience of signature all-white walls, in perfect harmony with the cliffs, the crashing waves, and the deep blue sea.
Sabina also designed The Grammar Room - an all-day cafe borne out of a mutual love for grammar, food and coffee. A beautiful space that extends into the rich foliage of the Delhi Ridge Forest, The Grammar Room features large glass windows, printed tiles and upholstery, and upcycled furniture juxtaposed with cane, wicker and marble top accents, with Edison lights and iPods mounted on the walls.
While designing a restaurant, Sabina feels it is important that the customers connect with the product at an emotional level. She prefers to mix contemporary and vintage elements to create something truly nostalgic, memorable and wonderful.
Viraj Churi, Olive Group’s CFO, has been a part of the Olive Group family since its inception in 2000. An alumnus of the Mumbai University, he went on to do an MBA from Sikkim Manipal University, a Diploma in Law & Taxation from Mumbai University and a Diploma in Sanitary Inspector from All India Institute of Local Self-Government. The man with the chequebook, Viraj has been integral to the Group’s growth. He’s a star!
A post graduate in Hotel Management & Catering Technology, Ashwin D’souza joined Olive Mumbai in 2003 with a decade’s worth of F&B experience under his belt. His rare combination of creativity and the ability to run multiple operations across the country at one go earned him the title of Assistant Vice President, Operations.
From reviewing and approving plans, controlling budget spending, encouraging labour and material efficiency, overseeing day-to-day operations, strategic planning, goal-setting, developing vendor relationships, to supporting the growth of the organisation, Ashwin answers every call.
From an army family, Priyanka spent much of her life on the move before setting down her roots besides the gorgeous banyan tree at Olive Qutub, a post-graduation in Communication Management in her hand.
Working her way up from Marketing Manager at Olive Qutub, Priyanka now handles marketing and event for the Olive Group’s many restaurant pan India. Her biggest goal: to have a hand in growing Olive to the most recognised and awarded national brand.