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Chinese food, Romance and a Murder: What’s cooking?



‘The Colours of Passion’ brings to light the fate of a number of our favourite stand-alone restaurants in the face of competition from global restaurant chains.

China Valley, one of the oldest restaurants in South Kolkata, started off back in the seventies and soon became one of the most popular eateries in town. Taking a girl to China Valley for dinner could win her suitor brownie points and give him a head start in the field!

China Valley kept growing through the eighties and nineties, launching new properties and takeaway counters in different parts of Kolkata. In the early years of the millennium, the owners even planned expansion beyond Kolkata.

And then, a few years back, the slump kicked in.

“The city suddenly had several new options. Global chains started making inroads. People started experimenting with different kinds of cuisines. Kolkata became more cosmopolitan, which had an influence on the city’s culinary habits. Shopping malls started flourishing. Dining got linked with a day out in the mall or a movie in a multiplex inside the same mall. That did not augur well for a number of our traditional, stand-alone restaurants.”

China Valley has been struggling ever since to keep up, recently pulling the shutters down on a number of outlets.

Sounds familiar?

This has been the fate of a number of restaurants that used to be our favourites back in the day!

Would such a restaurant benefit if it started operating from outlets inside some of the shopping malls in town?

“The footfall is high, especially with families trooping in during the weekends. And the crowd is mostly from among the best-paid people in town with propensity to spend.”

However, “there would be stiff competition from some of the global chains. Not to mention the high rents these restaurants end up paying in the malls. The restaurants have to pay either a flat rental or part with a percentage of their revenue, whichever is juicier.”

Does it then help the restaurateur if the daughter is in love with the mall-owner? “You get room for favourable negotiations. Or even, biased favours under certain circumstances.”

In ‘The Colours of Passion’, ACP Agni Mitra investigates the murder of Tollywood heart-throb Hiya Sen. Hiya was married to Manav Chauhan, the scion of the Chauhan family, who carved out a distinct identity for himself as one of the key architects of the new face of Kolkata, building one plush mall and residential complex after another.

Agni finds out that Manav broke his engagement with Neha Awasthi days before the wedding. Neha is the daughter of Deepak Awasthi, owner of China Valley. While Neha is madly in love with Manav and vows to win him back, Deepak Awasthi was eyeing business benefits from the alliance.

‘Food’ for thought, indeed!

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