The New Lucky Star restaurant in Ahmedabad is not a run-of-the-mill food joint for obvious reasons as one can sip piping hot milky tea amidst the eerie presence of graves. It may sound a tad creepy as those steeping into the restaurant for a cup of tea or coffee will have 12 bright green coffins for company.
Krishnan Kutty, the brain behind this quirky eating outlet, hails from Kerala and he has been running this modest restaurant for the past five decades in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat. The place where the eatery stands now was once a 'kabristan' (cemetery) attached with a mosque, and the graves are that of Sufi saints who lived hundreds of years ago. When Thiruvananthapuram-native Krishnan Kutty bought this piece of land from a person hailing from Kozhikode in Kerala, he never knew that it was once a graveyard.
After Krishnan Kutty came to know about it, initially he was confused and later decided to start a tea stall by the name of ‘The New Lucky Star’. Moreover, Krishnan Kutty respects and pays obeisance to the souls of Sufi saints and makes it a point to start a day’s business after laying flowers on the tombs in the morning.
“It is a belief that one would be able to realize a wish if you had a cup of tea sitting next to the grave. There are people who come here regularly. It is good to have food in the midst of the dead,” notes Krishnan Kutty.
Celebrated artist M F Hussain used to visit very often and had high regard for the restaurant. A beautiful painting gifted by Hussain still adorns the walls of the food joint. In an interview, the renowned painter noted that the eatery gave him a feeling of ‘life and death’.
The tombs enclosed in iron grills are placed near the tables. The outlet serves coffee, tea, noodles and biriyani, among others, but the hot milky tea tops the chart for many. Though life and death are two sides of the same coin, people were initially put off by the idea of sipping a cup of tea sitting next to a grave. But the tasty tea served at the restaurant is attracting people in droves. As the diners are seated near tombs, they respect the dead and never behave inappropriately inside the eatery.
“The restaurant has always been a blessing for me,” notes Krishnan Kutty.