It was around 12.15 a.m. Two cabs with employees working in a nearby tech company stopped at Food Mall, a food street right near Sholinganallur junction. While one of them ordered tea, the other went to a counter nearby to pick up shawarma and rolls for his late shift that begins at 1 a.m.
Several employees working along Chennai’s Information Technology Corridor and families visit this place to grab quick bites and ice creams.
On an average, 1,000 people visit Food Mall on weekdays. At weekends, the number exceeds 4,000. Over 10 brands, including Chai Galli, Tender Kebabs, Just Fried Rice and Tibbs Frankie, operate here. At the Just Fried Rice counter, the cooking process is semi-automated. A machine does the frying and the stirring, eliminating spillage. This is also helping the team sell huge volumes and have an even taste.
“This place is very active in the evenings and is open until 4 a.m. Most of the IT employees in the Old Mahabalipuram Road region come here during their breaks and after their shift. Madurai Kari Dosa is something that I always opt for,” says R. Srinivasan, who works for a call centre. His friend Sathyan says, “During weekends, we go for a drive on East Coast Road and towards Navallur. While returning, we usually stop at Food Mall for tea and snacks.” Many families who live in apartments in this region also come here after 10 p.m. to have ice creams. One of the popular ice cream brands here gets its maximum sales from this outlet.
“This is a 2.5-acre property that I took on lease. In the first phase, we have developed around 6,000 square feet. Now, we are working on the second phase,” says Kathir, founder of Food Mall. According to Mr. Kathir, more brands will be roped in for the second phase. A gaming zone will also come up soon. And there are plans for a drive-in cinema.
“For the first phase, we roped in a team from Mumbai and ensured that we had authentic Vada Pav being sold at the counters. To have authentic Madurai Kari Dosai, we hired masters [chefs] from the Madurai region,” he says. In the second phase, Mr. Kathir intends to have brands that would offer full-fledged south and north Indian meals.