The Tea Junction

Raising a storm over a hot cuppa is certainly The Argumentative Indian’s cup of tea! And now here is a move to turn that into a commercial proposition.Ambuja Realty, which first experimented with this idea, by setting up the first The Tea Junction outlet at City Centre, Salt Lake, is now well set for first, an eastern India and then for a pan-India roll out of more such outlets — a food and beverages (F&B) retail venture of the group.The Tea Junction, which would be located on high streets, high-end shopping malls, hospitals and other happening destinations, will serve pure Darjeeling tea in mud pots with traditional Indian savouries and desserts.
These tea houses are now heralding the advent of tea houses, as opposed to coffee houses, such as the College Street Coffee House, located near Calcutta University.Ambuja Realty is looking at three design for the outlets — kiosks, open formats and closed formats for The Tea Junction chain. These outlets are designed and developed in a way so that it turns out to be a place where one can relax, chat and catch up with friends over a cup of Darjeeling tea, often billed as afternoon champagne, and gorge on mouthwatering Indian snacks.At present, there are nine The Tea Junction outlets — all in and around Kolkata. “We will have at least 30 such outlets by the end of the current fiscal year and will add another 30 in the next financial year,” says Harsh Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Realty group, one of the largest realty players in the country.
And believe it or not, The Tea Junction was not a well-planned business venture. “It was purely accidental,” Neotia says.“The whole business model has just evolved.When we were planning to launch City Centre-I at Salt Lake, there was not a single restaurant or eatery in the whole place and so we thought let there be at least some place to eat.Like millions of Calcuttans, I am also a regular visitor to the popular Gurudwara tea joint on the Elgin Road, which serves traditional Indian masala tea with samosas and kachodis. We thought, why don’t we try this model in a different way. We may discontinue with it when the restaurants come up at City Centre. But who knew at that point that it would be a runaway success instantly.” The business model and the system governing The Tea Junction, therefore, has just evolved over the years. Now there is a backend kitchen, which makes and supplies the traditional Indian savouries and desserts to all the outlets.The kitchen also fixes the best mixing proportions (tea, sugar, milk and masala) for all the outlets so that a uniform quality is maintained.“Wherever, we go outside Kolkata, we will first make this base kitchen ready and then put in place the outlet chain.That’s very important,” adds Neotia.The whole idea is to revive the adda (chat and debate) culture in a different way into our contemporary day-to-day life. The kiosk format, which requires 60-100 sq ft space, targets morning walkers, joggers and people out on an evening stroll with friends.
The open format, which requires 300-500 sq ft, allows you to drop your shopping bags and settle down on comfortable tea chests and start an all new adda session with your friends and family, while the closed format, which requires 1,000-1,200 sq ft space, is for all who like to enjoy the aromatic flavour of tea in a closed ambience and relax in a cool air-conditioned environment.The closed format is a tea lounge, which lets you enjoy the blissful experience of imbibing good tea.

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