THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With its oldest joint in the district lying shut for more than 70 days now, the India Coffee Board Workers’ Society, which manages the hugely popular Indian Coffee House (ICH) chain, is planning to move court to get it open.
Food Safety officials had shut the ICH at Spencer Junction near Statue on October 20 citing faulty drainage. Although the society appealed in late December, the Food Safety Commissioner, Veena N Madhavan, rejected its arguments, prompting hardcore ICH fans to run an ‘open ICH’ campaign on social media platforms. India Coffee Board Workers’ Society president Krishnaprasad and member Anil Kumar S S told Express that they planned to approach the High Court.
‘’What’s important here is that the food safety officials have not found fault with the food we serve. It is true that there is a drainage problem. But the ICH is powerless to do anything about it since the owner of the building has to do it. We are planning to go to court,’’ Krishnaprasad said. Anil Kumar, a former president and secretary, said they planned to move court demanding the building owner to fix the problem and also against the Commissionerate’s finding that the ICH was functioning in what is essentially part of the car park. ‘’The ICH has been functioning in that space for about 20 years now. We were given that space through a court order,’’ he said.
A popular hangout and a landmark of the capital city, the ICH at Spencer Junction first opened in a tiled, rented building in 1964. Two decades ago, when the old building gave way for a multi-storied complex, the ICH moved into it on a lease. For the last several years, it has been functioning on a portion of the underground car park. After the ICH was shut on October 20, the 40-odd staff were redeployed in other branches, but the society says this cannot be a permanent solution.
Reportedly, Health Minister K K Shailaja intervened in the issue, but the Commissioner had refused to budge. ‘’The ICH had appealed, but it was not accepted. In fact, the ICH officebearers themselves were convinced of the drainage issue,’’ Anil Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Food Safety (Administration and Legal), said.
New ICH chain to open in city
If things go as planned, a new Indian Coffee House (ICH) will soon be opened in the Kerala Water Authority campus in the city. This is part of the expansion plans of the ICH which is struggling to compete with middle-level restaurants. In fact, in the past three years, two of the more popular ICHs in the capital had closed down - the one at Shangumugham beach and now, the ICH at Spencer Junction The latter was one of the relatively profitable branches of the India Coffee Board Workers’ Society. Meantime, the society is looking for space to relocate the ICH if its bid to get it opened flops. But rents in the city area are on the higher side, ICH staff said. In recent years, ICHs have been moving out of city areas, preferring highways and suburbs where space is also available for parking lots. At present, Thiruvananthapuram district has 16 ICHs in all.