Book Shelf

The Connoisseur’s Book of Indian Coffee
 

Planting times
 

Elite Clubs of India
Flury’s, 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.

- PENSCAPE

 
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