Long-time Chennai residents would be pretty aware of the Neo Roxy restaurant adjacent to the Roxy theatre. Thronged by people from all walks of life, the restaurant was a landmark in Purasawalkam for as long as it survived.
However, the biggest USP of the restaurant was the fact that though run by a Gujarati, Champaklal Bhatt, it served one of the most authentic South Indian food. Satyan Bhatt reminisces, “My father came to the city in the late forties as a teenager. We don’t know what brought him to the South, because we didn’t have any family or friends here. Working at the Arya Bhavan restaurant, he was later made in charge of the restaurant in Purasawalkam and eventually took over the place.”
When Gujarati travellers visited Chennai, they made it a point to visit the restaurant. “Gujarati tourists came in hordes by buses. My father insisted a lot on quality and taste and that’s what made the restaurant so popular,” he adds.
The restaurant closed down later, but the memories of the eatery and the food served are still afresh. “Even today many people tell me that they remember my dad and the restaurant,” says Satyan about the earliest identity of a hotelier that his family has been carrying for decades.