California
moderate rain
27.5 ° C
29.5 °
25.9 °
84 %
1.5kmh
100 %
Sat
30 °
Sun
35 °
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37 °
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36 °
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36 °
California
moderate rain
27.5 ° C
29.5 °
25.9 °
84 %
1.5kmh
100 %
Sat
30 °
Sun
35 °
Mon
37 °
Tue
36 °
Wed
36 °
Saturday, July 13, 2024

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Chennai | This brother-sister duo’s burger kiosk has become a late night hangout for many


Saaliha and Syed at Melt on Khader Nawaz Khan Road
| Photo Credit: RAVINDRAN R

On a corner of Khader Nawaz Khan Road stands a white kiosk — it’s where people go to get burgers but come back having made new friends. Started by siblings Saaliha Anjum Nawabjan (26) and Syed Afrosh Nawabjan (24), Melt is an unassuming space that is asleep through the day but springs to life every evening at 6. As the golden lights flicker on, the 98 square feet kitchen cum kiosk is abuzz with six trained staff prepping, cooking and serving out a steady supply of burgers, Italian breads, crispy ranch wings, French fries…

The long queues mean a minimum wait time of 20 to 30-minutes. “So many of our clients have now become our friends, and friends with other clients. Now, they are a gang of 20. There’s such a sense of community,” says Saaliha. On many nights, a number of them just stop by for a chat and some cold brew coffee. “You can also celebrity spot on some nights with director Vignesh, actor Nayantara and AR Rahman’s family also picking up a quick burger,” she says.

Saaliha and Syed are newcomers to Chennai. They moved from Vellore last year to make their long dream of starting a restaurant a reality. Interestingly, both of them studied medicine. Not out of choice, but on the behest of their parents, they are quick to say. Saaliha did her MBBS in Armenia and Syed studied podiatry in the UK. But all through it, their heart was in the culinary skills. And so, side by side, they enrolled themselves in a number of cooking and technique classes. Saaliha worked with a Georgian chef and Syed, after his course, worked as a chef in Bahrain. They travelled to Dubai, Doha, Singapore attending more cooking courses.

The team at Melt

The team at Melt
| Photo Credit:
RAVINDRAN R

Soon after that they came back to India, and 15 days later they opened their first outlet at the OMR Food Street, with an investment of 3.5 lakhs. “It was all our savings,” smiles Syed. 

A few months down the line, they decided to move to Khader Nawaz Khan Road and set up shop there. “We didn’t want to be one of the choices at the food court. We wanted people to come to us exclusively,” says Saaliha, adding that she is happy to see that happening. Their 15 lakhs investment paid off. 

“What people like is the fresh brioche we use for our burgers. It’s buttery and soft,” says Saaliha, adding that they learnt different recipes while studying abroad and then came up with their own. “We have a baker here and everyday he makes a fresh batch for us.

Syed add that they get fresh meat delivered every morning, after which he does the cuts and marinades himself. He adds, “Saaliha makes the sauces — four types of ranch, Melt sauce, spicy ranch and honey mustard. Instead of mayonnaise we use sour cream cheese and yoghurt.”

Their burgers are a fusion of Indian, French and Italian flavours. “Even our patty is different from what you get at most places,” says Syed. The favourites include the Philly cheese steak burger, kimchi burger and cottage cheese burger. “We order 60 brioches and 40 focaccias everyday and it all gets sold out by midnight,” he adds, pointing out that there has been an increase in demand. “We started out ordering 3-5 kgs of chicken, now we get 40 kgs of chicken on weekdays and 50 on weekends.”

Saaliha’s MBBS degree now sits in her cupboard. Their parents, she says, have come around and moved to Chennai. “Our father even does our accounts when he’s off work. Our parents are now happy to invest in our business,” grins Syed.

Prices start at ₹250. Melt is at 12/20 Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam.

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