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This ‘Bachelorr’ is now 80-plus: On Mumbai's iconic roadside eatery

A trip to Girgaum Chowpatty, Mumbai, invariably means stopping by for an ice-cream or sandwich at Bachelorr’s, an unassuming but popular roadside eatery, which has been a landmark since the 1930s.

Notorious smuggler Haji Mastan, is believed to have frequented the place as a youngster in the late 1940s. In the evening, you will see flashy cars parked outside with customers being served sandwiches, pizza, juice and ice-creams by Bachelorr’s staff.

From celebrities to students, almost every Mumbaikar has tasted the juices and ice-creams here: the Bombay masala-grilled sandwich and strawberry cream are two signature dishes that are crowd-pullers.

This ‘Bachelorr’ is now 80-plus: On Mumbai's iconic roadside eatery

Third generation

Twenty-seven-year-old Aditya Agarwal, with his younger brother Himanshu, is now at the helm. They took over two years ago, after their father, Arun, passed away, making them the third generation in the family business.

“Though we frequented this place since childhood, we were drawn to the business seven years ago,” Aditya informs. What started off as a small stall, selling juice, has today morphed into an organised business with two more branches in Mumbai — Mumbai CST and Bandra West.

The brothers have divided their duties and together, with their trusted lieutenants, run the show. “No chefs for us. We prefer to hire cooks and train them. Each dish is standardised,” Aditya says candidly.

This ‘Bachelorr’ is now 80-plus: On Mumbai's iconic roadside eatery

The quality of the ingredients, including fruits, is what they are particular about. “The brand has been built on customer goodwill and we don’t want to destroy that,” asserts Aditya.

From a menu written on a black board, comprising four to six items, during the 80s, the duo has expanded it into an exhaustive one with over 200 dishes. They also claim to be the first to serve chilli ice cream.

The history

It all began when Omprakash Agarwal, moved from a small village in Ghaziabad, UP, to Mumbai, with the hope of earning a livelihood. Working at a construction site near Chowpatty and selling small items on a train, Omprakash managed to stay afloat financially. Later, with his meagre savings, he started a fruit stall at Chowpatty, and business picked up as it was patronised by British officers. He was thus able to buy a storage space on the opposite side of the road, which in 1935, was converted to a shop selling fruit juice, and went on to become Bachelorr’s.

The story behind the name is an interesting one. Omprakash was called ‘Brahmachari’, as he had been single for a long time. The shop too was known by the same name. It was only in 1940 that he formally called it Bachelor Juice House, and in 1980, his son, Arun, registered it as Bachelorr’s. “It emanated from the word ‘Brahmachari,” explains Aditya with a smile.

Juicy beginning

Omprakash initially started off by selling orange, mosambi and chikoo juice. When Arun took over the business, he introduced fruit-based milk shakes. “A chikoo milk shake in the 1950s cost ₹4,” reveals Aditya. A great one for experimenting, Aditya says his grandfather also purchased an oven and introduced American-style pizza. They were basic pizzas, with tomato sauce, vegetable toppings and grated cheese. Sandwiches and pav bhaji, came next, as he felt the need for more savoury items.”

Endowed with a sharp palate, Arun created several in-house syrups for ice creams, chutneys and sauces, which are being followed till date. “This is what sets us apart,” says Aditya with pride.

Famous patrons

From actors Anil Kapoor and Freida Pinto to Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, Bachelorr’s has played host to people from all walks of life. “Prithviraj Kapoor was a close friend of my grandfather and was a regular here. Over the years, Bachelorr’s became ‘the place’ for everyone, including film stars like Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Ranbir Kapoor and South African cricketer, Dale Steyn,” says Aditya.

He recalls his father telling him that during the Emergency, juice from Bachelorr’s were also sent to the prison for Haji Mastan.

Preserving the legacy

Proud of the legacy they have inherited, the brothers have decided to put their MBA knowledge to use in the family business. “Apart from the three outlets, we even take on catering orders,” shares Aditya. “If my grandfather, an uneducated man, could start and run such a successful business, we can surely take it to the next level and we sure will,” Aditya says determinedly.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 1:46:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/this-bachelorr-is-now-80-plus/article26598685.ece

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