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HyderabadInspirational story of Hyderabad’s Niloufer Café owner

Inspirational story of Hyderabad’s Niloufer Café owner

Published: 1st Sep 2021 12:14 am

Hyderabad: When he first came to Hyderabad in 1975, A Babu Rao had travelled without a ticket in a train from Adilabad. Soon after he got off the train, he started working as a salesman at a textile store. “I came to this city penniless. So, even after I got the job, for a good fifteen days, I slept on the footpath, and bathed at the waiting room of Nampally station,” shares Babu Rao, who is now the proud owner of three outlets of Niloufer Café in the city.

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After a few months of hard work at the textile shop, Babu Rao shifted to a restaurant, where he learnt the tricks of how a food outlet was handled. “One of the customers who had come to eat at the restaurant thought I would be a good fit at his newly-opened café and asked me to join there.”

There, at the newly-opened Niloufer Café, Babu Rao worked not only as a waiter but sometimes even as a sweeper. “I even washed utensils at times,” recalls Babu Rao adding, “but my plus point was I knew how to make good tea, and I had a knack for selling things. After seeing my work, the owner of the cafe asked me to continue running it. Later, when he wanted to end the contract, he gave me the café.”

Photo: Surya Sridhar

From a small café in 1978, Babu Rao and Niloufer Café have come a long way. Today, there are three outlets of Niloufer Café — each catering to a different customer base. “People living in different areas have different tastes. For example, an auto driver likes kadak chai which comes for about Rs 10 to Rs 15. But for a working professional, it is the ambience of the place that pulls them into a cafe. They won’t mind if they have to pay Rs 100 for one cup of tea if they like the place. So, customers who go to the old cafe, might not enjoy the tea at the new one at Lakdi-ka-pul. And those who go to Lakdi-ka-pul, will not enjoy tea at the Banjara Hills outlet,” he explains.

Asked about the success mantra of Niloufer Café, he quips, “I would never serve a customer anything that I won’t eat/drink. I have always believed in quality over quantity. And despite bearing losses, Niloufer never compromised on the quality of our tea, cookies or any other product.”

Photo: Surya Sridhar

During the lockdown, Niloufer came up with three new tea powders — Platinum, Double Delight and Super Dust and these products are also available online now. “The idea is to give our customers something new while keeping up with modern technology,” he quips. A new branch of Niloufer Café — the biggest one in the city — will be launched soon at Himayatnagar.

“Giving never makes one poor”

For over 20 years now, Babu Rao has been arranging a three-time meal for the patients and attenders, who have come for treatment at the MNJ Institute Of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre and Niloufer Hospital. Sharing about his philanthropic work, Babu Rao says, “When I was in X standard, I needed some books which cost about Rs 100. I asked my father, but I knew he didn’t have that money. The next morning, I got to know that my father sold his cow for Rs 125 to fund my education. I was upset, and when I asked him about it, he asked me to donate as much as I can when I started earning.”

Babu Rao adds, “About twenty years back, when I had little means, I decided it was time that I did something for the needy. And I started giving three-times meals. A few years back, a patient who was getting discharged approached us and shared that he wanted to give money for one of the meals. So we took the exact amount from him and distributed the food in his name. It soon became a practice. And now, I even have to pre-book a slot to distribute food on special days.”

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