THE INDIAN Coffee House celebrated 50 glorious years of hospitality on Wednesday. Since it inception in 1958 by Kerala’s legendary communist leader A K Gopalan, the coffee house has undisputedly come a long way in catering to the taste buds of gourmets and coffee aficionados.
The tradition of coffee house was introduced in Madhya Pradesh on January 9, 1958. The first coffee house of the State was opened at 592 Malviya Marg, Jabalpur. This coffee house is counted amongst one of the best coffee houses in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. But the four outlets in Bhopal at Sanchi Complex, Secretariat, New Market and Alpana Talkies are no less. They have their own history and nostalgia associated with them.
“The first outlet of the ICH in Bhopal was opened at the Hamidia Road way back in 1960. With its club-like ambience with smoke and small talk, it instantly became a hub for discussions, meetings and get-togethers for students, politicians, poets, professors, businessmen and journalists. A cross section of the society used to sit for long hours chatting, cracking jokes and mulling over serious issues over a cup of pure filter coffee that stands as our USP even today,” says Raveendran Nair, senior general manager, ICH.
Rajendra Kothari, Resident Director, PHDCCI, also echoes the same sentiment. “I have been frequenting the ICH since 1965 but the smile, the service and the coffee has remain unchanged. ICH coffee emanates the same aroma and flavour everywhere. No body will entertain and welcome you for unwarranted hours in just Rs 5 over a hot cuppa. I remember sitting here for at least 2-3 hours regularly talking to my friend Sharad Joshi and chewing on many mundane as well as grave subjects.
The staff behaviour, no hiccups attitude, and non-profiteering motive to sincerely serve the customer have given them a distinct personality. It is a brilliant example of a successful co-operative venture.”
Agrees Padmakumar, who has been happily serving as a waiter in ICH for the last 18 years now. “The kind of respect that we earn working here is matchless. Our continuous effort to provide prompt service, impeccable neatness and inimitable food quality has cemented our relationship with the customers. We are treated at par in the society (Indian Coffee workers Co-operative Society Ltd) and there is no question of discrimination. Every person associated with the ICH has to go through the same grind to reach the top and then only will he able to enjoy the benefits and promotions. We are aloof from any kind of politics”, adds manager Raveendran.
Besides, the royal South Indian fare dished out by the ICH has also been its hallmark for years. Crispy Masala Dosas, succulent cutlets, tender Vadas and delicious Sambhar along with the trademark coconut chutney at the ICH has been satiating the hunger of millions on the breakfast table for years.
“Even now, we register maximum sale for the these items. The only option that has been added to the count has been Chhole Bhatoore. It also receives countless orders everyday. Full course meals at Bhopal started in 2002 and we are eliciting a huge response for that too. And of course, tea and other varieties of coffee as well as Chinese have been included in the menu to suit the demands, avers Raveendran.
After all, it is the cheapest and coolest place to unwind as compared to the other chic coffee bars in the City, which drill a hole into your pocket with exorbitant price tags and fancy names, says Sanchita, a collegiate, who keeps visiting the place with her group of friends for a lunch break.