M-Squared’s Café M2 multi-cuisine restaurant and thattukadas are a particular favourite of techies in Technopark
It’s lunch hour and Technopark’s employees are making their way to the restaurants and food courts in and outside campus. The queues are long everywhere, but perhaps none more so than at Café M2, the restaurant owned and operated by M-Squared Software and Services, situated right next to its main building on campus. The rush is particularly huge at the café’s two thattukadas, popularly known as ‘the huts’, where smartly dressed techies, tuck into wholesome Kerala fare with relish.
Constructed of bamboo, with its interiors dark and cool, the huts do resemble the ubiquitous thattukadas that dot Kerala’s landscape. While one of the huts is solely for the employees of M-Squared who, incidentally, get to eat for free, the other is open for all. “The restaurants were started by our chief executive officer and managing director Jacob Manimaleth some six years ago. Peak hour at the huts is between 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. We have a number of foreign clients who visit our offices and initially the huts were started to give them a taste of ethnic Kerala food. Now, it’s popular across campus,” says Liji Tharakan, Director (Operations), M-Squared.
The thattukadas are open 24 hours. For the early birds who’ve pulled an all-nighter at work, six varieties of Kerala breakfast dishes are served from 6 a.m. onwards. In the evenings there is kappa, kanji and chammanthi, besides chapathi, porotta and the likes, all of which are easy on the pocket. The lunch fare at the huts, meanwhile, is limited to Kerala meals (Rs.35). As soon as we battle the crowds to sit down on one of the plastic chairs and tables, we’re served the thali that comes with chamba rice, one vegetarian thoran, chammanthi, two varieties of pickles (the chilli pickle is particularly scrumptious) and a few curries, such as rasam, buttermilk and pulisseri. There’s also fish curry and fish fry meals (the speciality is karimeen fry, say regular customers), available from Rs.50 onwards. Simple and food that is packed full of flavour; no wonder the crowds keep on coming, especially now that techies also have an option to hop on M-Squared’s new ‘Meals Shuttle’ that does a round trip of Technopark every half hour during peak hours. “The idea for such a shuttle came about because of the parking woes on campus. We were losing out on customers simply because they were loath to move their cars/bikes from their parked spots for fear that they wouldn’t find another space to park. The bus stops at all the major buildings on campus, from M-Squared going to Nila, Leela, Chandragiri, Nest, Bhavani, Pampa, Periyar, Park Centre, Thejaswini, TCS, IBS and Gayathri, and it is completely free,” explains Jinu Joseph, Manager, Human Resources.
But techies being techies are not content with simple meals, it seems. Many of them want gourmet food. And so, equally popular is M-Squared’s multi-cuisine restaurant, with an open kitchen, that has on its menu everything from Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mexican and Continental dishes to North Indian and South Indian fare. The one thing that the folk at M-Squared – and the rest of Technopark – are particularly fond of is the café’s wood-fired oven, perhaps the only one on campus, which gives a wonderfully smoky, scrumptiously charred flavour to handmade vegetarian and non-vegetarian pizzas (priced between Rs. 80 and Rs.350). Hear the lips smack. It’s a must try. Café M2 also delivers within campus. Contact: 4084018
Garden of plenty
Instead of blanketing the space in monochrome, water-guzzling lawns, M-Squared has turned its two-acre plot in Technopark into a green garden of plenty. Scattered across the plot are nellikka (gooseberry) trees, lovelolikkas, red and yellow rambutans, coconuts, mango trees, sapotas (which are in season and heavy with fruit), ambazhanga (hog plum)… and even seven rubber trees – one each, it is said, to represent CEO Jacob Manimaleth’s seven maternal uncles! And that’s besides neat rows of vegetables such as long beans, pumpkins, chillies, tomatoes, lemons and the like. Even grapes are cultivated on campus (one vine in the row has currently borne fruit)! “It’s all thanks to green initiatives by our CEO, who hails from Ranni and is a keen agriculturalist. These initiatives are to make the land more sustainable and also to showcase traditional agricultural practices to visiting clients. We have two gardeners who maintain all of it. The mangoes are used to make the pickles served in the restaurants, while we distribute the produce and fruits to the employees.”
On the expansive terrace of M-Squared’s main building, they’ve also recently started cultivating organic vegetables such as carrots, beetroots, cabbages and so on. “We’re planning to convert the entire rooftop into a vegetable garden and also the rooftops of our other buildings too. The idea is to use the vegetables in our restaurants itself,” adds Jinu.