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Passengers board here


RUSHING FOR the Pandyan Express, which is about to leave in another 30 minutes. Worried about your dinner. Henceforth no more pre-travel hassles. It is good news for the Madurai denizens, as the Planetyumm, which has a similar outlet in Chennai Central, has opened a branch on the Madurai junction premises to serve the `stuffy' needs of the `last-minute' train boarders.

Located just by the side of the booking office, the food plaza is accessible both from outside and from the junction through platform no.1

Divided into four sections viz., the vegetarian (operated by Meenakshi Bhavan), the non-vegetarian (taken care of by the Neethu's Kitchen), the snack shop run by Nick Nack and the sweets being supplied by the Adyar Ananda Bhavan. The Arun Ice Creams offers some delicious desserts for those who want to finish their meal cool and sweet.

With every outlet offering a host of dishes suiting different tastes, the new food house draws not less than 400 customers per day for the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections.

For the snacks and sweet stalls, this number ranges between 200 and 250.

Despite a large number of people come visiting the food plaza, the premises is maintained spic and span. The acrylic tables and the reinforced plastic chairs make eating a comfortable and pleasurable one.

Somasundaram, a businessman, while waiting for his dosai and some rice items ordered with the Meenakshi Bhavan, says, "I am a regular visitor to Meenakshi Bhavan and know about their quality. This outlet is an advantage to passengers like me".

Riaz, another businessman from Chennai, who used to visit the Chennai branch of Planetyumm whenever he takes a train from the Central, is all praise for the clean environment. About the quality, his reply is a big smile with his eyes closed, expressing contentment. "Sans a few sticks of ice cream, I cannot end my food. It is also available here," he says.

While the popular dishes are available in every counter there are also some specials in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections.

"The Chicken Hakka Noodles, a dry chicken dish made of mixed vegetables, noodles and chicken and the combo meals are special items of our outlet," says Nazeer of Neethu's Kitchen.

According to him the biriyanis and the fried rice are hot-sellers in the outlet.

The Meenakshi Bhavan has a list of four as its special for the customers like Chocolate dosai (usual dosai sprinkled with chocolate sauce and crated cheese on top), Singapore Noodles (made of cashew, mushroom, capsicum and mixed vegetables), Singapore Paratta (the Veechu Paratta with vegetables, mushroom and capsicum) and Podi Oothappam (chilly powder sprinkled over oothappam with a tomato slice placed at the centre).

"The normal dosas, idlis and rice varieties move in large numbers," reveals Mr. Prabhakaran, Assistant Manager of the Meenakshi Bhavan in the food plaza.

For the Adyar Anand Bhavan, the ghee sweets and mixture, masala and bittergourd chips give a good business.

An air-conditioned hall is available on the first floor for the vegetarian section.

Around 50 varieties of sweets and 30 types of savouries are available and the varieties change every day. The pastry section run by Nick Nack draws an equal crowd for all its items. "The salt cookies go well with the aged people and the pineapple pastries are preferred by kids and youths," says the stall attendant.

Besides, on the walls are displayed a number of pictures of Mahatma Gandhi on different occasions. "This is the hallmark of our hotel and we display pictures in all our branches," says Mr. Prabhakaran.

"Since some rare pictures are available here, many visitors capture and store them in their cell phone cameras," he says.

However, the sales peak in the evening when the trains line up.

"The hotel, which opens at 5 a.m. and runs up to 11.30 p.m., always has fairly a good crowd throughout the day," says Mr. Ashok, project in-charge, Planetyumm.

"Our aim is not only to serve the travelling populace, but also to attract the city connoisseurs, for which many promotional measures are in pipeline," he concluded.

M.R. ARAVINDAN

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