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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

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Mat them

Restaurants turn to innovative mats to woo the customer



Photo: Mohammed Yousuf

EVERY PASSING day, new restaurants, bistros and lounge bars get added to the list of existing ones in the twin cities. Interestingly, one finds an equally burgeoning stream of enthusiastic takers for these. The result, when getting a table in these places is an endless wait, once seated, it takes a few more minutes before your order is served.

To keep the famished customers engaged during the time, few restaurateurs in town have hit upon an innovative idea. They have done away with the basic bland streamers only to present innovative options, read puzzles, calendars and cartoon strips, for tablemats.

"We were the first people to introduce tablemats with puzzles and cartoons so that people can sit and solve them till the food is being served," says Venkata Ramana of The Hub, near Punjagutta X Roads. "We have a collection of Calvin and Hobbes books and decided to use suitable strips for the table mats. People have liked them a lot. To keep the novelty factor going, we change the cartoon strip every week," he adds. The gamble worked. "The cartoon strip was one of the factors that I liked about the place," says Surekha, a housewife who makes it a point to go to the restaurant often, with her 11-year-old daughter.

Another popular restaurant among the younger lot is New Yorker, Somajiguda. As you find yourself a place, a couple of pencils are placed in front of you. One look down at the table will tell you why. The tablemat holds puzzles, mind teasers and more, enough to engross you for over ten minutes that you may continue to solve as you eat your pasta, a well-liked delicacy at this eatery which serves Conti food as well.

Tablemats in niche restaurants also reflect the cuisine that the restaurant serves. Ming's Court, the Chinese speciality restaurant at Ohri's Cuisine Court, Basheerbagh, presents the Chinese calendar on tablemats here. According to the Chinese calendar, the year 2004 is considered to be the year of the monkey and those who are born under the sign, including Mick Jagger and Nelson Rockefeller, have typical traits - inventor and motivator. So do others who are born in the year of the rabbit, snake or dog or the rest of the animal based signs of the Chinese calendar. "Many people who come here ask us for help in locating their star sign on the mat," says J.M.A.Patel, general manager, Ohri's Cuisine Court. Again taking a cue from astronomy, Pickles, the coffee shop at Hotel Basera brings Zodiac Potions - mock tails that to go with your star sign, for tablemats. If you are a Cancerian, Orchid, a blend of khus sherbet with lemon juice topped with soda, is your drink. Well, what more do we say. Cheers to the new idea.

SYEDA FARIDA

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