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Chennai restaurants are feeding the needy by urging customers to pay extra

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CHENNAI: The red board at Food Consulate’s FC Cafe in Velachery is dotted with yellow post-its. These are not meant to jolt one’s memory but to proudly display the names of those who have opted to lend a hand to the less privileged.
FC Cafe is one of the few establishments in the city that have decided to ‘Pay It Forward’.When customers pay their bill, all they have to do is add `50 to the bill amount. “We will use that amount to make a nutritious meal for an underprivileged person,” says M Mohamed Ali, director, Food Consulate.

Most people would have heard of the famous `Suspended Coffees’ movement launched by John Sweeney . How it works is simple. When you go for your daily dose of caffeine, you pay for an extra cup, which can be claimed by a needy person later.

The idea, which became popular world over, is now catching up in Chennai. “I first read about it on Facebook,” says Ali, who launched the initiative at his cafe in July, and now has four or five people opting for it every week.

Chef Koushik aka the Mad Chef plans to launch a similar initiative at Maplai, a south Indian casual dining restaurant, on November 14, Children’s Day .”When the restaurant turned one in the first week of October, we had a promo offer -a `Buy One Get One Free’ veg thali,” says Koushik, COO, Maplai.”But I found that many people who came alone to eat, wanted us to give away the free thali to a deserving person.” So, from November 14, cus tomers can buy a thali and pur chase another by paying just Rs 99 extra, which will go towards a thali for a poor person. “The nutritious veg thali consists of rice, sambar, kuruma, keerai poriyal, curd, barotta, vadagam and pickle,” says Koushik.

Though restaurants in Chennai have picked up the con cept, they are carrying it out a little differently . Unlike in the West, poor people here are una ware of the concept and hesitate to walk into cafes, feel restaura teurs. That is why Ali, along with his staff, cooks up nutri tious meals with the money that customers have donated on the last Friday of every month. “We make some variety rice, or chap pati and kurma and then dis tribute it to the less fortunate in and around Velachery,” says Ali, adding that customers also get a receipt for the donation.

Maplai has tied up with the Smiles Charitable Trust. “When we collect money for 100 thalis we will cook food and give it to the Trust, which will in turn distribute them to orphanages and homes around Chennai,” says Koushik.

Both Ali and Kaushik have also been distributing food to the needy and homeless wel before launching their initia tives. “We thought we should share that experience of giving with our customers too,” says Koushik.

People like Ganesan B K who opted for the initiative at FC Cafe, feel it is a small step to fund a good cause. “It is a smal amount but can make a big dif ference in someone else’s life,” says the 35-year-old analyst.

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Source: TOI-Che

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Two killed as roof of restaurant collapses near Chennai

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CHENNAI: Two people died and two others suffered injuries when the roof of a restaurant at Ekattur on the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) in Chennai collapsed on Sunday evening.

Police said the restaurant building’s roof collapsed after an under construction wall on the second floor of an adjacent building fell on it due to heavy rain.

The deceased were identified as Vignesh, 24, and Jawahar Perumal, 28, who were working at the restaurant. The injured — Kanakaraj and Ravikumar — were also employees at the restaurant, police said.

Passersby rescued Kanakaraj and Ravikumar from the debris and sent to hospital.

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Source: TOI-Che

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Jayalalithaa returns to Chennai from Kodanad

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CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday returned to Chennai from her Kodanad hill retreat in the Nilgiris.

According to party sources, Jayalalithaa flew down from Coimbatore to Chennai and reached her Poes Garden residence at around 3.45pm.

The AIADMK supremo went to Kodanad on October 14.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK’s IT wing released a few sky lanterns at Elliot’s Beach here on Sunday evening to launch the third segment of party’s 2016 assembly poll campaign series.

Though the party had planned to release 234 sky lanterns to symbolize their goal of winning all 234 seats in the state assembly election, the team released only a few lanterns as a symbolic gesture due to heavy rain.

According to a senior official of the IT wing, the tagline of the latest campaign is ‘Thodarattum Mempadu, Jolikkatum Tamil Nadu’ (Let development continue, let Tamil Nadu shine).

Tamil Nadu higher education minister P Palaniappan and social welfare minister B Valarmathi were present at the launch.

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Source: TOI-Che

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