When Madhur Malhotra met his long-lost friend over a cup of tea, an idea sparked that was going to change both of their lives for the better!
Madhur had it all, a job in Australia and a hefty salary, but the fact that his parents were alone in India always bugged him. He returned to his home in Bhopal when his mother fell ill. “She had to have open heart surgery and that was when I decided to return to India for good. My mother is 72 and my father is 78 years old. My sisters are now married and my parents were living alone,” he said to The Better India.
He joined his father’s construction company, but the work didn’t interest him. It was only after he met his friend Shelly George at a local tea stall that he realized there was a need of a “good” place people could go to for a cup of tea. The stall they went to was unhygienic and was filled with people smoking cigarettes.
Both of them set up a small cafe called Chai 34. The idea was to provide a nice ambience for people to bring their friends and family and share their love for the beverage. They started by selling Irani Chai, but the people didn’t respond well to it. At times, Madhur and Shelly had to make tea themselves because of the lack of workers. Business was slow; that’s when the duo decided to adopt “kulhads” (earthen cups) to serve their tea. It was an eco-friendly option and added a nice aroma too.
Now, the place is a heaven for tea lovers and serves around 22 varieties. They have a fast food menu as well. During winters, they rake up to 100–200 customers per day. Their business has grown in leaps and bounds since the time they started three years back.