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Sohail Khan set to become a restaurateur

By: By: Upala KBR, <a href="http://www.mid-day.com/" target="_blank">Mid-Day</a>
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Sohail Khan wants to buy land Farhan Azmi's Basilico is on, but the cafe will stay on till lease ends. Says a source, "Sohail wants to invest in a restobar and has been checking out properties in Bandra. He's currently in negotiations with the owner of the land where Cafe Basilico stands. The restaurant is owned by Farhan Azmi, who has leased it from the owners for nine years. The owner had offered the property for sale to Farhan but Azmi is not interested in buying it as current property prices have dropped."

The source adds that Farhan will shift after his nine-year lease on the land lapses. "Sohail and Farhan have spoken and the latter will be allowed to stay on till the completion of the lease if Sohail buys the property. The Basilico and adjoining area which also belongs to the owner is above 2,000 sq ft. Property rates in Bandra are hovering between Rs 20,000 to 25,000 per sq ft. This means Sohail will have to spend around Rs 5 crore or more for the place."

Ashwin Bhanushali, senior retail executive for Farhan Azmi's Infinity Hotels Private Ltd, says, "We have leased the land from the owner, Mr Chowgule, for nine years and have six and a half years left. There is a clause in the contract which says that irrespective of whosoever buys the property, we will be staying on till the completion of the lease.

We have heard that Sohail Khan is in negotiations with the current owner for buying the property that Basilico is on. We are not interested in buying property right now but in the lease model, we rent the property from the owner, build our brand on it and then shift elsewhere when the lease gets over. Currently, we are building other restaurants in Versova and Colaba, including a restaurant street in Colaba, including an Oriental one."

Sohail says, "Yes, I am looking at lots of properties and that one (the Basilico property) is one of them. But no luck till now." On quizzed about whether he's planning to open a restobar there Sohail says, "No, but I would love to open an eating joint sometime in the future as I love food and films." But Sohail doesn't want to reveal details on his plans. "It's too early to talk about it now," he says.

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