Brand Cafe Niloufer has fans, not customers; to launch at Hyderabad airport by March '23: MD Shashank

Irani Chai along with a savory bun maska and Osmania biscuits at the popular café Niloufer is home to every Chai lover in Hyderabad

Brand Cafe Niloufer has fans, not customers; to launch at Hyderabad airport by March 23: MD Shashank

HYDERABAD: Irani Chai along with a savory bun maska and Osmania biscuits at the popular café Niloufer is home to every Chai lover in Hyderabad. Starting from humble beginnings in 1978, the café has soared high, becoming a favorite breezy hangout spot for Hyderabadis.

Owner of the café, Babu Rao, once worked as a waiter and before that as a sweeper there before its historic takeover. The café, now, has four outlets, each serving a different genre of customers.


Speaking to NewsTAP, Mr. Rao's son and Managing Director of Niloufer café A Shashank talks about the major triumph of the café and their plan to go global.

A Shashank

Excerpts from an exclusive interview

When was the café Niloufer established. How did Mr. Babu Rao take over the café?

Honestly, we do not know how the café was established. Looking at my father's workmanship and skills, the previous owner had asked him to join the café to help him run the business, in 1975. He used to make tea, samosas, biscuits and various other things. In 1993, my father took over the café. Niloufer garnered huge popularity for its Irani chai and Osmania biscuits.

Babu Rao

When did you join the business? What are the changes that you added to the café?

I joined the business in 2011 after completing my MBA. I started off working as a purchase manager, a cashier and a production in-charge for four to five years.

I observed that most of our customers visit the café three to four times a day. A brand with repeated customers, or the way I like to call them- Fans-, can grow rapidly. Expanding the café with the air-conditioning facility is a major change I added, once I joined the business.

How many outlets of café Niloufer are there in Hyderabad?

We have four branches in Hyderabad.

The first, café Niloufer Irani chai, was the one the dad took over.

The second, café Niloufer classic, was opened in 2015 with air conditioning facilities and an extended menu in Lakdikapul.

The third and fourth cafés' named cafe Niloufer premium launch and café Niloufer Himmayatnagar was opened with better facilities and food options.

How is each branch of café Niloufer different from the others?

The pricing, ambiance, and menu we offer differ in each outlet. In the first café, the tea costs only Rs 20 whereas in the other branches it may cost around Rs 50. Each of the four branches serves a different customer base.

You also serve Niloufer chai besides the famous Irani chai. What is the difference?

Irani chai is a concoction of milk, water, and decoction, whereas Niloufer chai is purely made of milk, without a single drop of water or decoction. Niloufer chai was widely accepted by the people. As it is only made from milk, it is a premium chai costing around Rs 50 per cup.

The café's regular customers were the local crowd of Hyderabad. How difficult was it to attract families to the café?

For a brand like Niloufer, it took a lot of time and planning to convince or attract families to the café. To overcome the name generally associated with Irani café, it took a lot of effort to transform café Niloufer into a high-end tea shop.

To make the café family-friendly, ambiance, aesthetic value, service and menu were planned meticulously. The café in Banjara Hills and Himayatnagar have many families visiting for causal evening meet-ups.

Is café Niloufer being established at the Hyderabad airport?

Yes. We have acquired 4,000 sq ft at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport for the establishment of the café. My team is working on the setting up of the outlet at the airport. The café is being planned in European style with a Hyderabadi touch to treat every passenger at the airport to the best tea and bakery products.

The café at the airport will be opened before March next – in about three months.

The café sells chai that costs Rs 1,000. What is the specialty of that chai?

The Rs 1,000 Chai is specially made with a 'Chaipatti' that sells at Rs 75,000 per kilo. The chaIpatti, Mizan Golden Needle, is raised at the shores of the Brahmaputra in Assam in an almost 100-year-old tea garden. The tip of the leaf is plucked and oxidized before sunrise. We procured it in the auction in the year 2019 and sold it in the year 2020. Currently, it is out of stock.

Is the café planning to go global in the future?

We plan to go global with the café in another five or maybe even in 10 years. We are in no rush. We will go global with proper planning and marketing strategy. The aspirations to go global are still on paper.

We currently are planning to launch our exotic tea launch which will range from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000, in the month of February. A separate segment is created at the Banjara Hills outlet, where tea is prepared from chaipattis taken from gardens that are 100 years old. These are known as high-end liquor tea.

What do you recommend as a must-try in café Nioufer?

My recommendations would include Niloufer chai, bun maska, sabudana khichdi and the recently-launched khara bun.

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