The stream of customers is steady, despite it being a muggy 35-plus degree Celsius outside. It’s always been like this at Eat Well Cold Storage, as long as one can remember during each visit to this mini landmark. Today, as it completes 40 years, late Dattatray Phadnis’ dream of offering cold storage options to a suburb that was starved of fresh meat and poultry options, stands realised, and how.
Parag Phadnis (left) shares a rapport with regulars. Pic/Sameer Markande
“In 1974, my dad learnt that Mafco was looking for distributors in the eastern suburbs. He secured a special license from the BMC to run it from a garage owned by his friend Dr Khandekar. Mafco gave the approval because of prime location — on MG Road, which was near the railway station, and in the heart of Mulund,” recalls 50 year-old Parag, Dattatray’s son who has been running the show for 31 years now. His brother Pravin (54) joined him in the 1990s.
Initially, the space sold chicken, pork and green peas from Mafco, as well as Aarey and HPMC products (including apples). By the mid 1980s, Venky’s entered the market, and Eat Well’s sales soared as they began to stock their products. Al Kabeer followed suit, and the period from 1990-2000 was their high point. In 1992, the family opened Sahil Foods in Mulund-East, run by oldest brother, Sanjay (58). Parag, a hotel management aspirant admits, “I wanted to pursue it after my HSC but I’m glad this happened.” By then, he was head on into the business, and innovating along the way. After 2000, the mall invasion did cause worrying times, but things went back to normal, pretty soon, he tells us.
The family album: (left to right) A file photo from the 1980s with Sanjay, Pravin (partly hidden), mother Shalini, Parag and Dattatray Phadnis
Regulars are grateful for the inclusion of delicious additions —from Pune’s Kyani Bakery to chivda, Bakarwadi and other Maharashtrian snacks sourced from Chitale Bandhu as well as Hyderabad’s famous Karachi Bakery biscuits.
Parag adds that toast from Indore’s popular Nafees Bakery is their latest occupant on the already overflowing counter.
A self-confessed foodie, he began stocking his own chicken sandwiches a while ago; “it’s my passion,” he smiles. Eat Well also sells homemade products, from pickles to puran poli and brownies. “I taste every product before I stock it.
People’s choices have changed so we must keep up with the times,” he says, while citing the example of high demand for olive oil. “Ours is a give-and-take policy; we’ve learnt from and have grown with our customers,” he says, in between managing the rush at the store.
The day starts with Parag heading to Crawford Market to buy fresh fish. While beef is sourced from Deonar, pork arrives from Pune. Along with his brother Pravin and the rest of the staff, they serve with an infectious warmth that every old-time customer will vouch for. “We have a zero resistance policy with our customers and offer immediate replacements,” says Parag, who has plans to open a larger space later, for live cooking sessions, and entere into the health food products business as well.
By now, the decorations at the store are drawing looks from his customers. “It’s our anniversary on Wednesday; drop by for free goodies,” he reminds each of them. Customer is king here, and will always be.
At: Vaibhav, ground floor, MG Road, Mulund (W). CALL 25681627
Time 9.30 am-9.30 pm, daily