the legendary Calcutta tearoom gets a new life
Flury’s 18 Park Street.
Kolkata landmark, on the corner with Middleton Row. A legendary
teashop now well past its sell-by-date with rumours of its
impending conversion to a McDonalds’s. Still good for
cakes, patties and Swiss pastries – try the rum balls.
So goes the entry in The Rough Guide to India, 5th edition
published in November 2003. Happily, though, for Flury’s
fans all over the world, the tearoom is decked out again,
ready to do a star turn for its loyal clientele.
After nearly four months in renovation mode, Flury’s
re-opened on December 22, 2004, complete with an image makeover
that maintains an olde world ambience while infusing youth
and vibrancy through hip colours and decor.
First set up by Swiss confectioners Mr & Mrs J Flury
in 1927, the establishment was taken over by the Apeejay Group,
owners of five-star luxury hotel chain The Park Hotels, in
1965. Situated at a strategic junction on Park Street, this
classic Victorian style tearoom has seen three generations
of Calcutta residents dropping in for their birthday orders,
Christmas and Easter shopping (and daily bread), besides being
a hangout for college students.
At a tearoom you’d expect tea, and at Flury’s
it comes in a pot. Given that the Apeejay Group has its own
tea gardens in Assam and Darjeeling, the quality of tea is
impeccable. But it’s the snacks and short eats that
bring people back time and again: a mean club sandwich, baked
beans on toast and of course the confections – rum balls,
meringues and pastries. To this list has been added fudge
cake and a range of salads, pastas and curries.
The Rs. 3 crore renovation programme is a clear signal that
the tearoom format in India is back in vogue, ready to challenge
the coffee shops a la espresso bars that have burgeoned in
urban India since year 2000. The Apeejay Group plans to open
more franchisee outlets of Flury’s in Calcutta, before
taking it national. Interestingly, the Group also owns the
‘Cha Bar’ – high-end tea shops attached
to the Oxford bookstores in major Indian cities. How will
these food service outlets co-exist, how will they evolve?
Only time can tell. For the moment, though, die-hard Calcuttans
can rejoice in getting back their celebrated, iconic tearoom
in a brand new avatar. Some things do get better with age.