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 conceptualized 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 & Tonic.