From the likes of late Prithviraj Kapoor, the pioneer of Indian theatre and Hindi film industry, to the King of Kashmir His Highness Hari Singh, a colonial area joint has ruled the hearts of Mumbaikars and visitors from all walks of life.
But it wasn’t just them in the last eight decades.
When Haji Mastan was still a youngster and not the notorious smuggler India knew, he frequented a no-frills joint at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai.
Even at the peak of his reign as one of the most influential mafia dons of his time, the visits did not stop.
Known for his eccentric lifestyle, pristine white clothes and shoes, a Mercedes to match, and the look replete with a gold watch, he would sit on the bonnet of the car devouring the fruit juice. Legend has it that when he was imprisoned during the Indian Emergency, regular parcels of juices were sent to his cell from this very eatery.
Once known as Brahmachari’s, Bachelorr’s, the snack joint, was established by Late Omprakash Agarwal back in 1932.
The long-standing bachelor behind Bachelorr’s
Hailing from Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Omprakash ran away from his home as a teenager to colonial Bombay (now Mumbai) with almost no money. From working at a construction site near Chowpatty to selling items on a train, he juggled odd jobs until he saved enough to start a fruit stall by the beach.
Some customers often asked for the fruits to be cut and served in a dish. So the idea of selling what would come to be known as ‘fruit platters’ struck him. It was perhaps the first time that the concept began in the coastal city.
Little did he know that the business would pick up. It found patrons from British officers to locals alike. Omprakash soon bought a storage space and transformed it into a fruit juice shop in 1935.
Today, it is 80 years old and has come a long way from the six offerings written on a blackboard to serving more than 200 dishes! Its proprietors also claim that the place has pioneered green-chilli and ginger ice-cream in India!
The Better India got in touch with the third generation of the family taking the legacy of the iconic eatery forward.
Because he was single for a long time, Omprakash was lovingly called ‘Brahmachari’ (meaning Bachelor in Sanskrit). Funnily enough, he christened the shop with the nickname. It wasn’t until 1940 that the shop was called Bachelor Juice House.
In 1980, Arun, Omprakash’s son, registered the shop as Bachelorr’s.
Arun introduced an array of ice cream flavours and fruit-based milkshakes. He worked long hours whipping and experimenting with unique in-house syrups for ice creams, chutneys, and sauces, the recipes of which continue to be close-guarded secrets followed at the restaurant.
To add a western touch, Omprakash invested in an oven and added pizza to the menu. He also added the iconic Mumbai snack pav bhaji alongside sandwiches and other popular snacks to cater to diverse taste buds.
Now, Aditya and his brother Himanshu, are the third generation duo who have taken over the reins of the venture. They took over the operations in 2017 after their father, Arun, passed away.
Speaking to The Better India, Aditya recalls:
“My grandfather was friends with Late Prithviraj Kapoor. The two would bask in each other’s company at Bachelorr’s, then known as Brahmachari Fruits and Juices. My grandfather would also narrate stories of superstar Jitendra casually sipping his glass of mosambi juice, sitting at the shop counter, and players of the Indian cricket team enjoying their glasses of Chocolate milkshake at Bachelorr’s. From royals, leaders and politicians, veteran Bollywood celebs, sportspersons, notorious gangsters to common Mumbaikars like college and office goers, Bachelorr’s was the place to be. And fortunately, continues to be today.”
When asked about their interest in the business, Aditya adds, “Since childhood, my brother and I visited Bachelorr’s and sat by the cash counter, taking orders. The joy of interacting with customers was unmatched. We fancied seeing celebrities, big industrialists and socialites, and serving their favourite snacks. Also, we saw our father (Arun) work endlessly to create what the people of Mumbai enjoyed. It gave us inspiration and motivation to join in.”
After Arun passed, Aditya and Himanshu took over the family business. Today, Bachelorr’s has three outlets and even cater for events pan-India. Their staff changes seasonally, but Aditya maintains that 20 odd staffers help the smooth running of the venture.
Then and now
Aditya shares, “We have incorporated our hand-made style into machinery that meets our needs without any change in product or taste. We are big on social media and take part in expos and food festivals to showcase our creations to a new generation of potential customers. We have more than 45 types of ice-creams and many other exclusive creations.”
Their USP, the entrepreneur adds, are ice-creams, milkshakes and fruit creams. “We make our own ice-cream. Our range of premium ice-creams and their flavours are carefully curated and kept exclusive.”
Though traditionally known for fresh fruits, juices, and sandwiches, additions such as milkshakes, fusion juices, falooda, fruit and cream, pizzas and rolls are crowd-pullers.
The love for Bachelorr’s can be seen in how visitors pass the tradition of visiting the eatery to their kids and grandkids.
“A 90-year old gentleman came with his 10-year-old grandson and told me how he came to Bachelorr’s as a child with his grandfather and met my grandfather. Nothing can express the essence of these experiences we aim to create for our customers.”
The young Agarwals are keen to evolve with changing times and trends while maintaining the brand’s top-notch quality and plan to expand their reach geographically.
We wish them the very best!
To know more about the iconic eatery, visit their website here. For any additional queries, contact +917021740413.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Images courtesy: bachelorrs.india.official/Instagram