Our Story – Detail


How two leaves and a bud were picked by Chai Waale

In recent years, the landscape of the hot beverages market has undergone a significant transformation. In the past, the market was defined by a sharp divide: roadside tea stalls prided themselves on affordability, while cafes emphasized the premium experience of sipping tea in cozy, air-conditioned comfort. The disparity between these two ends of the spectrum was evident, with tea vendors often falling short in terms of quality and hygiene, while cafes catered primarily to a select urban clientele.

However, the emergence of quick service restaurants (QSRs) introduced a fresh dynamic to the scene. These establishments aimed to carve out their share of the beverage market by offering competitive pricing alongside freshly crafted drinks and delectable finger foods. Bolstering their appeal, QSRs boasted professionally staffed kitchens, creating a compelling business model.

In this evolving landscape, Chai Waale made its entrance. Positioned in the pure vegetarian, mid-range segment, the brand swiftly gained traction through a combination of competitive pricing, a relentless focus on customer satisfaction, and a strategic approach to choosing locations across Chennai.

In the midst of this diverse array of offerings, Chai Waale carved out its unique identity and embarked on a journey of exponential growth. The brand’s commitment to affordable pricing, coupled with an unwavering dedication to customer happiness and a shrewd selection of prime outlets, propelled its rapid rise.

When the kettle boiled for Chai Waale

Chai Waale demonstrated remarkable determination as they paved their way into a well-established market for hot beverages. However, what truly set their aspirations in motion was the prospect of spearheading the retail of both affordable and quality chai and delectable quick bites, within an organized, yet untapped, hygienic tea market.

Their initial stride was cautious yet resolute, materializing with the opening of their first outlet on Mint Street, Chennai, India in June 2018. This inaugural location served as a litmus test, given its immense influence on customer perceptions of chai. They exercised patience, diligently observing footfall patterns and gaining the public’s confidence before venturing to inaugurate their second outlet in the same year’s December. This strategic maneuver bore fruit handsomely. The year 2019 saw a fervent expansion drive, resulting in an impressive tally of ten stores. Throughout this phase, Chai Waale unwaveringly adhered to its stringent quality standards, crafting hygienic chai imbued with an authentic essence.

What makes Chai Waale’s cutting, special

Chai Waale stands poised at the intersection of an established fact: India’s prominent role as one of the world’s largest tea producers and consumers. In a landscape where over 80% of tea grown, finds its home within the domestic realm, Chai Waale embarked upon an innovative journey into this potentially untapped market of the organized hygienic Chai QSR, armed with a winning tea-making formula. Their secret lies in sourcing the finest tea leaves directly from Assam, and expertly selecting spices and other ingredients from trusted manufacturers. 

Chai Waale’s range of specialty teas is a testament to their commitment to excellence. In addition, the brand has now grown to become a full-blown Quick Service Restaurant (QSR). From the soothing embrace of milk tea to the robust allure of black tea, the refreshing herbal blends, and the invigorating notes of iced tea variants along with milkshakes and mojitos and their inhouse signature drinks, their offerings are an ode to tea’s diverse flavors. Complementing these enticing brews, Chai Waale’s ever-expanding menu boasts an array of delights such as sandwiches, maggi, fries, momos, pasta, cream rolls, khakhra along with a range of confectioneries and savories —each a thoughtful addition, crafted after meticulous customer research and taste profiling.

Notably, Chai Waale operates on a bedrock of high-volume business principles, having offerings across all parts of the day, all seasons, formats, and all customer segments. This strategic approach has firmly established Chai Waale within the mid-range beverage providers segment across Chennai. Their well-placed outlets and unwavering focus on customer-centric service delivery further solidify their position as a preferred choice.

Chai Waale’s leverage with the beverage during Covid-19 and its positive impact

The emergence of the COVID-19 phenomenon unexpectedly reshaped Chai Waale’s business landscape, yielding unforeseen positive outcomes

Chai, as a beverage, experienced a surge in consumption, buoyed by endorsements from healthcare practitioners highlighting its various health benefits. In a marked change in consumer behavior, an emphasis on value for money emerged as a pivotal criterion in selecting products and services like Chai Waale.

This shift in focus played into Chai Waale’s strengths. The growing inclination towards freshly prepared, hygienic chai with an authentic flavor aligned seamlessly with the brand’s core values.

Why hygiene is a byword for Chai Waale

The onset of the COVID-19 situation catalyzed a profound transformation in business dynamics, and Chai Waale astutely seized this opportunity. Imbuing a meticulous focus on cleanliness and hygiene, their approach is enshrined from the very inception of preparation to the serving stage. In an era where health, hygiene, and affordability coalesce with responsible consumer behavior, Chai Waale admirably bridges the gap in the market, delivering an amalgamation of pristine hygiene and an authentic gustatory experience. 

Maintaining impeccable hygiene stands as a lasting cornerstone, deeply ingrained in Chai Waale’s guiding principles. Furthermore, their offerings expand to include wholesome, nourishing vegetarian snacks that seamlessly align with the refined preferences of their valued customers. In a landscape shaped by worldwide complexities, the inseparable connection between well-being and sanitation becomes distinctly evident, a connection that Chai Waale wholeheartedly embodies.

Calculated Costs, Competitive Returns

Chai Waale prides itself on receiving the freshest batch of premium raw materials, a testament to its commitment to quality and excellence. They understand that as products move closer to their expiration dates, they lose the adequate freshness and optimal taste, although they might still be fit for consumption. Hence, it is vital to use ingredients that are newly acquired and up to date.  This is facilitated by their well-established vendor relationships and a robust supply chain management system. The strong payment policy and fair business practices that Chai Waale has cultivated over the years enable them to secure better pricing for their fresh premium raw materials. The placement of their stores at prestigious locations has also helped the cause. These strategic advantages play a pivotal role in setting them apart from their competitors.

One of Chai Waale’s key strengths lies in the special bond they share with their vendors. This relationship goes beyond mere transactions and extends to a collaborative partnership. This symbiotic connection ensures not only the consistency of the raw material quality but also guarantees timely and reliable supply. Such a close-knit rapport with vendors not only enhances the operational efficiency of Chai Waale but also reinforces the quality standards that are a hallmark of their brand.

In essence, Chai Waale’s focus on sourcing the freshest raw materials, coupled with their strong payment policies, fair business practices, and the special bond they share with their vendors, forms a robust foundation for their success in delivering top-notch products to their customers consistently.

How Chai Waale Brews Affordability

Chai Waale follows a competitive pricing structure and a versatile product portfolio catering to every segment, be it students seeking a casual gathering spot, for friends and families to enjoy, for office colleagues to rejuvenate, or for individuals to indulge in their preferred cup of tea along with delectable snacks. 

Bolstered by stringent quality standards, Chai Waale ensured that each cup of chai offered heightened customer satisfaction, featuring a generous serving size surpassing the norm of typical tea vendors. Competitive pricing further solidified their appeal, complemented by an unwavering commitment to maintaining high hygiene standards.

What Makes Chai Waale a Customer’s Delight

Research says that more than 75% of a business’s customers will return if they have a positive experience. At Chai Waale, this statistic is taken very seriously, because good customer service contributes to positive experiences, more positive reviews, and better revenue. Every employee at Chai Waale is trained to deal with customers in a befitting manner, such that they delight the customers. 

The quality of the food itself at Chai Waale has its customers hooked. Friendly and well-trained staff serving delectable food items is bound to keep every customer happy. Hence, the brand is always looking for new ways to surprise its customers with a better variety of food items that can be served at any time of the day and throughout the year, irrespective of what the season is. Impeccable taste combined with unmatched prices always delights customers from all segments.

Positive Impact of FSSAI and Government Regulations

  1. The stringent regulations established by FSSAI, once enforced, are expected to render the unorganized and unregulated players unsustainable over time.
  2. FSSAI regulations signify a transition towards a formal economy. They establish a level playing field where all vendors, home cooks, and business owners in the food and beverage industry adhere to uniform standards in paperwork, quality assurance, and valid certifications. Chai Waale has been proactive in complying with government mandates from the outset of their business. With the implementation of FSSAI regulations, the informal sector will gradually give way to a formal economy, aligning with the government’s goal of boosting revenue through comprehensive compliance. Chai Waale’s foresight and adherence to such standards reflect their commitment to contribute to the government’s developmental vision across sectors.
  3. The rigorous compliance requirements tighten the operational constraints on unorganized businesses, potentially impacting their profitability. Chai Waale, distinguished by strong business acumen and prudent decisions, is positioned for growth and success, standing out in terms of scalability. While the potential departure of unorganized and unregulated players might create a void, established businesses are presented with greater room to operate and expand their reach, leveraging the shifting landscape.

Avenue for higher revenue

Chai Waale is dedicated to expanding and refining its business model to drive accelerated revenue growth.

  1. They are tapping into the untapped and potentially profitable market of wedding and corporate events, both on a national and international scale.
  2. The corporate subscription model and corporate pantry spaces are becoming new avenues of growth for them.
  3. They are cultivating proud “Chaipreneurs” who promote Chai Waale’s offerings through white-labeling, ensuring greater traction and acceptance.
  4. Another innovative strategy they employ is white-labeling a diverse range of light, nutritious snacks crafted from premium ingredients and authentic recipes.

Sip Sustainably

Chai Waale prides itself on being able to solve problems with food safety that most QSRs in this segment usually face. They use the environmentally friendly backyard compostable delivery containers. Their aim is to put a stop to single-use plastic altogether, thereby strengthening their resolve to work towards a cleaner planet. The packaging material used by Chai Waale is 100% food-grade materials that are free from artificial chemicals, making them food-safe. It is safe to say that Chai Waale is one of the very few QSRs in this segment that have implemented the best practices in food safety and packaging.

Guardian Angels Who Supported Chai Waale

Chai Waale has been blessed with a remarkable array of investors cum mentors, including both prominent celebrity figures and seasoned professionals in the investment world.

These investors are well-known Angel Investors and prominent figures in their field of operations, and they bring valuable expertise. In addition, a handful of these backers are notable micro–Venture Capitalists, who have played a crucial role in guiding and contributing to the growth of the startup ecosystem.

Furthermore, Chai Waale was privileged to have Shri Charanjeet Singh, the former Executive Director of UCO Bank, among their esteemed board of advisers. His extensive background in banking and finance, along with expertise in various other domains, adds an invaluable dimension to the support network of Chai Waale.

A partner in progress

Chai Waale stands out with strong brand recall among its customers, maintaining direct communication with an impressive database of over 800,000 clients which form a small part of their total customers. 

Their relationships with vendors and delivery partners also receive high praise for their consistent commitment and reliability. 

They enjoy a thriving presence on various social media platforms and are warmly embraced by their customer community. Chai Waale has successfully established a commendable reputation by retaining both customers and vendors.

Promoting inclusive growth

Chai Waale places a strong emphasis on contributing to society through continuous CSR initiatives throughout the year. They generously support educational institutions, healthcare facilities, NGOs, religious organizations, and more, actively engaging with various segments of society. Chai Waale also offers job opportunities to the less privileged and endeavors to contribute in a modest way to sustain their livelihoods.


The epitome of genuine hospitality lies in the act of serving and creating a positive impact within the community, even in challenging circumstances. Throughout the years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chai Waale has exemplified this ethos by providing assistance where it mattered most.

In the years 2020 and 2021, amidst the pandemic’s turmoil, Chai Waale extended a helping hand by offering complimentary snacks to sanitation workers, migrant laborers, and anyone in need who sought support. Additionally, Chai Waale played a crucial role by consistently contributing disposable flasks. These flasks were instrumental in ensuring the well-being of COVID-19 patients, facilitating the contactless yet uninterrupted supply of vital fluids to those undergoing treatment.

Business Ethics

While many businesses in the mid-range QSR sector in India were adopting cost-cutting measures to weather the storm, Chai Waale stood firm in their ethical resolve. They honored all financial commitments to their employees, vendors, suppliers, and property owners. Pay cuts and return of goods became commonplace during COVID-19. In a landscape rife with such practices, Chai Waale stood apart, upholding their solid business ethics and respect for humanity. 

Chai Waale’s humane actions during the COVID-19 crisis didn’t just showcase their business ethics; they illuminated their core values of empathy, community service, and responsibility. 


Over the preceding half-decade, the initial Chai-focused café concept of Chai Waale has undergone a transformative journey, blossoming into a comprehensive Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) encompassing an expansive array of beverages and fast-food offerings within its ever-adapting menu. This evolution has witnessed a remarkable progression from a solitary establishment to a network of 55 outlets, among which 37 proudly stand as company-owned and company-operated (COCO) establishments. Notably, the revenue has surged by an impressive 26-fold from the fiscal year 2018-2019 to 2022-2023.

A source of immense pride lies in the fact that all 55 outlets are strategically positioned within the headquarters city of Chennai, India. This strategic concentration speaks volumes about the unwavering trust and endorsement received from the discerning clientele. The past five years have provided a platform for refining business strategies and meticulously documenting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Even amidst the turbulence and uncertainties sparked by the 2020 pandemic, Chai Waale demonstrated resilience and adeptly maneuvered through challenges, ultimately emerging stronger.

Presently, our diverse portfolio of outlets boasts prestigious locations including the terminals of Chennai Domestic and International Airports, Chennai Central and Tambaram Railway Stations, Chennai Metro Stations, esteemed educational institutions such as SRM College and IIT Chennai, bustling malls, and dynamic tech parks, among other prime retail spots. This strategic placement has notably enhanced Chai Waale’s standing among all stakeholders, suppliers, and customers alike, elevating the brand’s reputation and resonance.

MAPPING TOMORROW: Chai Waale’s Path for Future Expansion

Equipped with hands-on expertise acquired across all business operational domains including vendor management, store partner collaboration, financial oversight, and meticulous reporting, we have dedicated the past 5 years to refining recipes and optimizing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This effort has contributed to the successful establishment of 55 outlets (37 of which are Company-Owned and Company-Operated) in a strategic and calculated manner.

With this solid foundation, we are now embarking on the next phase of our journey, aimed at realizing our initial objective of becoming a globally recognized brand with 1500 outlets. Our timeline for this expansion is practical and achievable. Our primary goals are to elevate the experience for tea enthusiasts while simultaneously fostering entrepreneurship by encouraging self-employment and self-sufficiency. Furthermore, we aspire to play a pivotal role in generating significant regional employment opportunities.

Market size and scalabili-tea

The Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) landscape, particularly the Tea Retail sector, has a historical legacy of over five centuries and holds a central place in Indian culture. This industry is now poised for rapid growth. Chai Waale is on a mission to evolve into a comprehensive destination, catering to diverse preferences throughout the day, across seasons, locations, formats, and customer segments. This strategic expansion plan aims to harness the expansive market size and venture into new territories.

Tea, ranked as the world’s second most-consumed beverage after water, coupled with the fact that 64% of India’s population is a tea enthusiast*, underscores the market’s consistency and potential. This alignment offers a mutually advantageous proposition for all stakeholders, shaping an enterprise with remarkable scalability.

It is observed that there is a higher disposable income within the young working demographic and an increasing consciousness surrounding the hygiene factor.

The expansion plan is supported by demand drivers like improving purchasing power, steady urbanization, changing food consumption habits, favorable demographics, wide adoption of user-friendly, convenient delivery applications, and tech-enabled delivery networks among other factors. 

Post covid, there was a shift by consumers from the unorganized to the organized segment with a preference for branded QSR players – given the appealing factors such as hygiene and convenience which is making the QSR segment boom. These are also the driving factors for revenue growth.

*Source – Tea Board, India

Elevating The Success Rate Through Teamwork

Chai Waale is supported by a dedicated group of professionals, each a specialist in their respective fields, contributing to the seamless management of the entire team. These various department heads bring their wealth of experience to the table, steering the company’s growth trajectory and adeptly predicting business cycles, thereby providing a positive impetus to the company’s overall performance.

The operational management team consists of various members, ranging from individuals with a business family legacy of 120 years to individuals with 20+ years of experience in the F&B QSR Industry.

Tea-Fueled Partnerships with Elite Associations

They are affiliated with various reputed and premium associations and trade bodies which are not only a source of networking but also a powerhouse of knowledge for various developments in business. These relationships are crucial for various purposes, such as partnerships, collaborations, networking, or gaining insights and opportunities.