Indian Coffee House

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Indian Coffee House
Co-operative Society
Industry Restaurants
Retail beverages
Founded 1936
Number of locations
400
Waiter with turban in Indian Coffee House, Bangalore.

The Indian Coffee House is a restaurant chain in India, run by a series of worker co-operative societies. It has strong presence across India with nearly 400 coffee houses.[1][2]

History[edit]

The India Coffee House chain was started by the Coffee Cess Committee in 1936, when the first outlet was opened in Bombay. In the course of the 1940s there were nearly 50 Coffee Houses all over British India. Due to a change in the policy in the mid 1950s, the Board decided to close down the Coffee Houses. Encouraged by the communist leader A. K. Gopalan(AKG), the workers of the Coffee Board began a movement and compelled the Coffee Board to agree to handover the outlets to the workers who then formed Indian Coffee Workers' Co-operatives and renamed the network as Indian Coffee House. A co-operative began in Bangalore on 19 August 1957, and one was established in Delhi on 27 December 1957.[1][3] Later Bellary and Madras (Chennai) Societies were separated from their mother societies.[citation needed]

Management[edit]

"There are 13 co-operative societies in the country to run the coffee houses. These societies are governed by managing committees elected from the employees. There is also a federation of the co-operative societies as the national umbrella organisation to lead these societies.".[4]

Branches in India[edit]

Indian Coffee House in Kerala[edit]

Indian Coffee House shop at Thampanoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

The state of Kerala has the largest number of Indian Coffee Houses, approximately 51 in India.[5] Advocate T. K. Krishnan, a Communist Leader of Thrissur and N. S. Parameswaran Pillai, the State Secretary of the India Coffee Board Labour Union and a thrown-out employee of ICH were the founders of ICHs in Kerala. The first Indian Coffee House of Kerala was started in Thrissur in 1958. It was also the fourth ICH in the country. It was inaugurated by A. K. Gopalan on 8 March 1958.

There is also an alternative history book about the ICH movement, in Malayalam - Coffee Housinte Katha or History of Coffee House by N. S. Parameswaran Pillai under the pen name, Nadakkal Parameswaran Pillai (Published by Current Books, Thrissur). This is the only published written history of ICH movement in any language. The book won the Abudhabi Shakthi Award as the best autobiography in 2007.

Indian Coffee House in West Bengal[edit]

The Indian Coffee House has several branches in Kolkata, including the College Street branch, Central Avenue branch, Medical College Kolkata branch and Jadavpur branch. These are favourite hang-out places among the students and youth, although one can see several old-timers frequenting the coffee houses on a regular basis.

Coffee House at College Street
Indian Coffee House, Kolkata.

The most famous Coffee House branch in Kolkata is the one at the College Street, also known as the "Coffee House at College Street". It is opposite the Presidency College, Kolkata and has been a long-time a regular hang out for students (and ex-students) of the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and other institutions in College Street.

The history of the Coffee House at College Street can be traced to Albert Hall, which was founded in April 1876.[6] Later, the Coffee Board decided to start a coffee joint from the Albert Hall in 1942. Notable citizens, including Rabindranath Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose, were frequent visitors to the place. In 1947, the Central Government changed the name of the place to "Coffee House".[7] The place became a meeting place for poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture. In 1958, the management decided to shut down the Coffee House, but it was re-opened the same year, after professors of Presidency College and Calcutta University rushed off a special petition to the government to save the heritage place.

The prestige of the Coffee House increased with regular visitors such as Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen The Coffee House is of historical significance for being the rendezvous of innumerable versatile people, from its inception to date. Scholars, editors, artists and writers like Ritwik Ghatak, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sanjeev Chattopadhyay, Samaresh Majumdar, Subhas Mukhopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay have been just a few among the patrons of the restaurant. In the early 1960s the coffee house became the intellectual battleground of the famous Hungry generation literary and cultural movement; the iconic poets Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury brother duo who pioneered the movement were arrested and prosecuted. Several literary magazines owe their origin to the inspiration from the adda sessions at this coffee house. Though popularly known as College Street Coffee house, this branch is actually on Bankim Chatterjee Street. The coffee house is famous for its adda sessions, and as the breeding place of several political and cultural personalities and movements. Many people come here just for the sake of adda and just being a part of the long talking sessions. Several talented and illustrious persons from different streams have been thronging this renowned adda for a long time. In 2006, a huge financial crunch kept the co-operative society from undertaking renovation of the coffee house. Though a few companies such as Asian Paints approached the society with offers to renovate the restaurant, the offers were refused due to clash of norms and conditions.[8]

Other states[edit]

Indian Coffee House in Punjab

The Indian Coffee House branch in Sector 17 of Chandigarh was opened in 1964 and remained popular among professionals, journalists, doctors, bureaucrats, lawyers and senior officials.[9] The branch originally operated in Sector 22, and was shifted to Sector 17 in 1971. The Coffee House on the Punjab University campus is popular among students.

Indian Coffee House in Himachal Pradesh

The Indian Coffee House branch in Dharamsala used to be a popular hang-out of intelligentsia in the city. It was set up, after the district administration approached the Indian Coffee Workers' Co-operative Society, Delhi in 1991. The society decided to close it down in 2006, after losses ran over 35 lakh rupees.[2]

Indian Coffee House in Karnataka

The 50-year-old Indian Coffee House at M. G. Road in Bangalore closed on 5 April 2009, after the Indian Coffee Workers' Cooperative Society Limited lost a legal battle with the owner of the building to continue in the premises.[10] It has been reopened on Church Street, less than a hundred metres away.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Indian Coffee House in Kannur - Address & Phone Numbers

External links[edit]