In India, chai is more than just a beverage. It brims with nostalgia – of rainy evenings spent with family enjoying a sip, of bonds blossoming over a cuppa.
Carving a niche around India’s tea sentiments is Chai Sutta Bar (CSB), one of the fastest growing tea chains in the country. Chai Sutta Bar (CSB) was founded in 2016 by two friends from Indore, Anubhav Dubey and Anand Nayak at a time the market space was dominated by coffee chains. A BCom graduate from the small town of Rewa near Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Anubhav had his focus on the UPSC exams but ended up becoming a successful chaiwala (tea seller), spreading the flavour of kulhad (earthen cup) chai across India.
“We did a market study and noticed the gap in innovation and lack of standardisation in the tea industry. The study indicated a substantial opportunity to introduce tea chains, which is how CSB came about,” says Anubhav. The idea was to do something different. With an initial investment of ₹3 lakh, CSB’s first outlet was opened opposite a girls hostel in Indore. While Sutta is associated with smoking, Anubhav says they do not promote the use of tobacco or alcohol and the term is a marketing technique.
From its humble beginnings, the tea QSR (quick service restaurant) has expanded to more than 450 outlets in 195 cities across India, with outlets in Dubai, Muscat, Nepal and Port Blair as well. It is also present in key cities of South India such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam and aims to open 50 more outlets in the region over the next one year. On an average, CSB serves 4.5 lakh kulhad tea every day. Apart from being eco-friendly, the use of kulhad gives seasonal employment to 500 small families of potters in Central India. .
With an aggressive expansion plan, the company clocked a revenue of ₹10 crore in the last financial year, while the franchises under its ambit reported a revenue of over ₹150 crores in the last fiscal. The startup has been bootstrapped till now.
CSB’s distinctive product is flavoured chai which comes in nine flavours that includes adrak, chocolate, rose, elaichi, paan, kesar, masala and lemon. One of its popular accompaniments is the maska bun.
Its Visakhapatnam outlet located at the TU-142 museum complex on Beach Road has a curated a menu that highlights local flavors and snacks. Along with those, one can choose from pizzas, burgers, pasta, instant noodles, sandwiches and bites.
The interiors of its outlets reflect a contemporary yet cozy atmosphere, with comfortable seating arrangements and warm lighting. The use of vibrant colors, such as the brand’s signature red and yellow, adds a visually appealing touch. Additionally, the walls are adorned with wall murals and creative signage that showcase the essence of tea culture.
M Sarath, the franchise owner of CSB’s outlet in Visakhapatnam, says his visit to another CSB outlet in Raipur during the pandemic piqued his curiosity about the brand. “The vibe was positive and concept was interesting. I felt that in Visakhapatnam, the beachside and kulhad chai would go well together. So we collaborated with CSB and got this new space on Beach Road on a long-term lease agreement with Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority in the TU142 museum complex,” says Sarath.
The Visakhapatnam Chai Sutta Bar is open from 11am till midnight.