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Features

Under The Mango Tree

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A 23-year-old Chennai-based juice bar chain and two local women entrepreneurs come together at the newly-launched vegetarian food court in Puducherry

Revolutionary poet Bharati, who sought asylum in Puducherry during British rule, lived in Easwaran Koil Street. He is supposed to have set up his printing press at a bungalow for a couple of months until it was confiscated by the British. That very same bungalow is now being revamped into a food court by Viknesvaran Sittaramane, who decided to convert the old structure, which was used as office space and showroom for his family run business for this purpose.

Under The Mango Tree

“The property was purchased by my father in 1991 and I have such fond memories of the huge mango tree in the campus, which is over 40-years-old and gives such delicious mangoes. Now you know why I call it The Mango Tree food court,” says Sittaramane.

The Mango Tree, the first-ever vegetarian food court, has emerged as the newest destination for tourists and Puducherians alike.

Under The Mango Tree

“During my student days in Chennai, I used to frequent Fruitshop on Greams Road, which launched its first branch on June 16, 1995, in Chennai. I simply loved their juices, and when the idea of food court was mooted, the first thing I did was approach them for a franchisee,” says Sittaramane. Brothers Harris and Salim Abdullah, the owners, met Sittaramane, and after they inspected the place and other facilities, they agreed for the franchisee and it was launched on May 2. “We were impressed by the colonial style bungalow. . The idea of serving exotic juices for people from different continents as well as the local population was exciting,” says Harris.

Under The Mango Tree

“Keeping with the spirit of Puducherry, we have also made provision for bar stools at the juice bar which is a 16-seater one right now. As we were keen on converting the space into a vegetarian food court, we decided to bring in two other local entrepreneurs to set up their restaurants,” says Sittaramane “As there weren’t that many authentic vegetarian North Indian restaurants or Chaat shop in Pondy, I have roped Manisha Bhat and Ashish Bhat of Bhatt’s Kitchen, who are well-known for home delivery of home-cooked meals and snacks,” he says.

“We ventured into small scale food delivery one year ago, and our major clients were the students from medical and engineering colleges in and around Puducherry, as well as families,” says Manisha . She says she completely avoids artificial flavouring, colours and additives, and most importantly, she makes her own masala for all kinds of preparations,from the scratch. “Both of us are passionate about food, and are keen on preparing and serving authentic, simple and healthy meals. We will continue with our meals home delivery along side with this restaurant,” she says.

Under The Mango Tree

At Bhatt’s Kitchen, they serve Gujarati lunch thali meals from noon to 2 pm, and Punjabi dinner thali from 7 am to 10.30 pm. They also offer mini lunch and sabzi with roti. The lunch and dinner menu will change every day, but certain popular dishes will be available everyday. At the chat counter, snacks such as pav bhaji, dabeli, dhokla, muthia and vada pav are available through the day.

For Puducherry-based home baker Twinkle Gupta, this food court will be her launch pad of sorts. “I started Smackalicious two years ago more as a hobby baking. Gradually the orders for my birthday cakes, Christmas cakes, brownies and cupcakes increased, and when Vikneswaran came up with this idea of food court, he invited me to open my full-fledged bakery.I am super excited about it,” says Twinkle.

Under The Mango Tree

Her most popular item is her cheese cake and unusual flavoured (rasmalai, mango, pina colada) cupcakes. Twinkle’s hand-crafted and home-baked desserts and cakes are known for its delightful flavours, and this will give the opportunity for customers to taste a wide range of her specialities. “My Surprise Box with four different goodies, which is sent to customers once a month on a subscription model, will be continued here also.” The new entrant to the gastronomic scenario of Puducherry has brought in some cheer to its gastronomic landscape and to the steady stream of tourists. “Welcome to Puducherry. We invite you to get high on juice, not booze,” chuckles Harris.

@The Mango Tree Food Court

12, Aurobindo Street, Puducherry,

11 am to 11 pm

Phone: 8270745400

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