Kerala restaurant offers meals without bills

‘Eat as much as you want and give as much as you can’ is the slogan of the People’s Restaurant in Alappuzha

Thiruvananthapuram: For those whose eyes dart to the prices mentioned against each item on menu cards, a restaurant in Kerala has come with a surprise: None of the items on the menu carries a price tag, and customers do not get a bill at the end of their meal.

Instead, this restaurant in the coastal district of Alappuzha would rather have the customers decide how much to pay, and drop that into the hotel’s contribution box.

‘Eat as much as you want and give as much as you can’ is the slogan of the Janakeeya Bhakshanasala (People’s Restaurant) in Alappuzha, and the aim is to achieve a hunger-free Kerala.

The ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) is taking credit for the unique venture, and the eatery was conceived as part of the Snehajalakam, a palliative care unit linked to the party.

The eatery began serving meals free of cost to the public over the past weekend.

The venture is also backed by the Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE), a state-run organisation.

State finance minister, T.M. Thomas Isaac, who was one of the first to visit the restaurant, was full of praise for the outlet.

“Many people are wondering how long this can be sustained. No government help has been sought so far. Two people who came from Kollam had black tea, and contributed Rs1,000 [Dh56],” Isaac said.

The finance minister said the number of VIP visitors to the restaurant who are now making a beeline to the eatery out of curiosity, may drop in the coming days and the number of really needy customers may increase.

Early indications are that sustainability will not be a major problem. On day one, roughly Rs40,000 worth of vegetables and provisions were used to cook meals, and the restaurant authorities felt that the contribution box contained a much larger amount than that, including a single cheque for Rs10,000.

The restaurant, located at Pathirapally, features a steam kitchen that can cater to roughly 2,000 customers a day, and the restaurant cost Rs 1.12 million to set up. The fund was raised through the corporate social responsibility kitty of the KSFE.


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