Remember Erith Maria Ramark's "Three Comrades". This piece of literature was based in the depressed and highly volatile times prevailing in Germany between the first two world wars. The Nazis were going great guns and everything was so uncertain. In times like these three friends, motor car resellers by profession, used to frequent a small eating joint. The owner was a strong man with enviable personality, always treating customers more like friends. Participating and contributing in the happier and sad moments of the customers, always lending a helping hand and extending shoulders to fall back on.
Cut to…. Calcutta, around a 70 years back. Times were equally turbulent, if not like Germany, but well… almost. Partition happened just a couple of years back, demonstrations on the road everyday, basic necessities being scarce, police firing becoming everyday affair… depressing in one word.
But then, there was this small eatery behind Bijoli Cinema in Bhowanipore where students of Asutosh College and the like would frequent for endless cups of tea, lip smoking snacks and most important… long sessions "adda" customers were mostly students and young people, dreams in their eyes, poetry books in their pockets and loads and loads of topics for continued discussions accompanied by tea at 3 paise and toast at 4 paise.
And why the place so special?? Well, Debu Barick … the owner. In shorts and vests, chopping onions and sizing meat, listening to the dreams, aspiration and frustrations of the youngsters and sometimes participating in the conversations and sometimes saying…"one more tea for you? The bills on me!"
Bijoli Grill … the place The place then had people like Dibyendu Palit, Manas Roychoudhry, Somnath Bhattacharya, Ajoy Roychoudhury … all renowned later for their contributions in the field of literature, education and medicine … coming to Bijoli Grill for their quota of "adda", literary discussions and the customary cups of Debu Barick's tea.
Debu Barick started small. As a matter of fact … the small eatery was started by his uncle and was called "Dipti Cabin". He recalls .. "I renamed "Dipti Cabin" to Bijoli Grill in 1947 when I was 22 or 23 years old. I have studied till class 7th in Corporation school and from 16 years of age started working in my uncle's eatery because my father's stationary shop had failed and the financial condition was quite bad. "
The journey which started from that small eatery is today quite an achievement and mentionable history.Debu Barick has taken Bijoli Grill to become a formidable brand in food and catering to some of the most recalled celebrities by now … Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Zakir Hussain, Jyoti Basu, Mithun Charaborty, Aparna Sen, the Indian and West Indies Cricket team … the list is endless. Bijoli Grill today caters simultaneously to 22-25 marriages in an evening and is the top brand name in organised catering in Calcutta today employing around hundreds of skilled manpower and professionals. All this started from small eatery behind Bijoli Cinema around 50 years back. The man behind the show… Debu Barick.