The seafood hawker stalls business located off the Marina is growing. Last week, the c colourful, well-lit signboard of Chennai Mess went up at the south end of Marina Loop Road.
And an additional board said, proudly – Meenava Pengal Unavagam.
This new food joint will now compete with the 10 others that dot the west side of the road.
Selvi is the person behind this business and she is hands-on. Selvi dropped out of school in Class 9 and has flirted with local politics, even applying for a ticket in the past in elections to the civic body.
She says she worked on the food business idea after women she knew kept coming to her for jobs last year when the pandemic was at its peak and all these women lost their jobs and there wasn’t much in their purses.
“I saw the market for seafood and since I also like cooking I decided to set up shop,” says Selvi.
She promises that the seafood her place offers is fresh, sourcing it from fishers on the other side of the road as well as getting stock from markets like Kasimedu and Chintadripet.
In the week since Chennai Mess opened, the prawn dishes and fish curry have moved fast.
Selvi says she employed a few women who were jobless and reside in the Srinivasapuram and Mullima Nagar kappams and it so happened that her team are all women and that it may well remain this way if the business clicks. A few hands wash and ready the vessels and the plates, a few are ion charge of cooking and one handles the serving and parcels.
Taking the cue from competing seafood joints on this side, Selvi has also created a dining space with tables and chairs.
This is because families and groups of men have become regular diners at these seafood joints and they want to sit down and enjoy a meal which offers a variety of seafood.
Selvi says Chennai Mess will be open from about noon till late evening. “There is competition and I can see it around me so we must offer good food,” says Selvi as her team prepares to receive diners for lunch.
Such has been the popularity of these seafood joints, with one place putting out a video of actor Sethupathi dropping in to sample the food while shooting closeby that the days of just salesmen, auto drivers and Kuppam youths dining here are of the past. All the joints are packed for lunch and past dusk.
On Sundays, you will see families dining here at lunch time and visitors to the Marina have a quick bite at dusk, while packing food for home.