By Chokkapan S (firstname.lastname@example.org)
‘Remember the ice cream shop at Abirami mall?’ Thus starts a review on a food rating website. “Yeah it’s one of my favourites and I’ve been eating ice cream from there when I was a little kid, years have passed by, new ice cream joints have grabbed our eyes but then there’s always something missing,” (sic) it reminisces. If you are a Chennaiite and haven’t guessed the ice cream brand yet, it is none other than MilkyWay.
“Milky way gives you that sense of completion and satisfaction which other ice cream shops have failed to give me, I’ve never wanted 30 different flavours, I’ve never wanted ice creams to be fancy and I certainly did not want them to be way costly. All I wanted was to get a different feeling and sensation every time I ate the same flavor and milky way does exactly that,” (sic) raves the reviewer, who is evidently a long-term fan of the brand.
MilkyWay is a chain of parlours that serves Italian-style softy sundaes, thick milkshakes, soda pops and pure vegetarian snacks and fast foods. The brand’s uniqueness lies in the wide and tempting range of Italian-style softy sundaes that offer fresh alternatives to the discerning customer, who wants something different from the regular frozen sundaes and expensive gelato.
“We launched our first parlour opposite Ethiraj College at Egmore in 1994. Back then, there were no good ice cream parlours selling softies and sundaes in Chennai (then Madras). We imported ice cream machines from Italy and offered made-to-order Italian sundaes and softies in just 10 seconds. As we were the only one brand making such softies in Chennai, we became synonymous with softies,” apprises Bhushan Goyal, the founder of MilkyWay. In no time, they would sell their yummy melts to around 2,000 customers a day.
So, what makes the brand, uhm … , click among its patrons? “Our regular customers helped us innovate and create over 300 different flavours of softies, with vanilla or chocolate as the base and a mix-and-match combination of flavouring with syrups, fruits, nuts and other toppings. They have been a great help in our R&D; some of them even over the last 27 years,” beams Mr Goyal. The ingredients used in the manufacturing of MilkyWay ice cream, apparently, are ISO9001-2000 or HACCP certified, thereby ensuring the quality of the products is of the highest standard.
As for the brand’s USP, he says that MilkyWay softy sundaes never hit one’s throat, “as these are made with real milk and are very silky, smooth, and creamy. They are preserved at -4 degree Celsius to maintain their consistency.” Mr. Goyal points out that there is a big gap in the Indian dessert industry for innovative softy sundaes and how there is no other organized player in this particular segment. “Our sundaes are fresh, creamy, and yummy. They can be mixed and matched to make 100s of different combinations,” he says, adding that a lot of celebrities, including movie actors and cricketers, frequent their parlors, which come as high street outlets, food court stores, and shop-in-shop kiosks.
MilkyWay currently has 21 outlets – of its own and its authorized franchisees – in Chennai, Bangalore, Erode, and at Port Blair in Andaman. The brand offers franchise opportunities for entrepreneurs. “Our Chennai outlets are quite popular among locals. As compared to them, our other parlours in Bangalore, Erode and Port Blair – which has been around for nearly 8 years now – are doing pretty well. We also supply our frozen products – under the MilkyWay Express brand name – to around 80-90 percent of restaurants, hotels, and caterers in Chennai,” says Mr. Goyal.
As with many retail businesses, the Corona pandemic outbreak hit his business till last October. “But we are back to pre-Covid business since then. We are planning to open two more own outlets soon, apart from 25 new franchisees, including in Dubai, in the coming years,” reveals Mr. Goyal, as he signs off.