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Hyderabadi chai goes hep – Café Niloufer

- By Dwaipayan, 12 March 2021 | 6 MIN READ


The fusion of good old Irani chai and Osmania biscuits are a treasure for every Hyderabadi, moreover, if the chai and the biscuits are from café Niloufer nothing like it! The café has a heart-warming history and is serving aromatic Irani chai to its every tea lover for decades now!

The owner himself takes the lead to sample the chai each day as early as 4.30 in the morning and gives feedback to ascertain that the flavour, the taste remain true to the age-old standards. Other than the vintage Irani chai one can savor the freshly baked cookies, maska bun, puffs that add to the classic experience of the old Hyderabad charm in this timeless café.

Of course, few things have switched over time, the new set-up is now rather rustic with pinewood beams and the cafe has two floors. Visitors may opt to go upstairs if they’d like a sit-down meal. The ground floor is where the cakes, cookies, and other goodies are displayed for take-away. The priceless masala tea comes in a pot for two! Make the tryst even more enjoyable with the sizzling brownie they offer – a must have. Be rest assured it’s all vegetarian!

Well, the journey of this fantastic hospitality and “chai charm” Café Niloufer began in 1978 by Sri A. Babu Rao. It has set some glorious standards in the café segment of the state. Café Niloufer embraces the latest world-class baking technology while keeping the true essence of the legendary Hyderabadi delight. The outlets are in Lakdikapul and Banjara Hills.

From cleaner to owner the rags-to-riches story of Babu Rao is truly inspiring, there are lessons of leadership, compassion, and integrity one can learn. 

If you ask Babu Rao about his success mantra – he has one thing to say, “When you invest time to take good care of people who work for you, they give their best in return”. I was a worker myself, so I understand all their problems. 

The man has never kept the success to himself, he believes in charity begins at home and has been distributing free food for thousands, for almost 20 years now. Patients, relatives queue up near the MNJ Institute of Oncology and Regional Cancer Centre at 7 am daily, for the food that Babu Rao himself serves them, without fail every day at 7:30 am.

His approach towards life closely relates to John Quincy Adams quote “If your actions inspire people to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” He built a brand by demonstrating exemplary people skills and taking his bakery to new heights.

For successful leaders customers and employees are the priority, he saw the opportunity in customer service as a trigger point to grow his brand while keeping his employees happy ensured a thriving business.

He is born with this natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. This type of leadership flips the typical leadership script by putting people ahead of power. He prioritizes the team’s growth and well-being, letting their own needs and ambition take a backseat.

Let’s divert a little from the ageless “Irani chai” to discuss in brief a set of five core servant leadership skills to work with a team!

Here we go!!!


Listening is at the heart of servant leadership. If a team member’s talking, give them your full focus and attention—no interruption allowed! It’s a simple way to make your team feel valued so they know you care. 


Well, this is certainly important, some team members may come to you from a toxic work environment—and you have the privilege to help them heal. All you have to do is creating a healthy work environment rest assured they will feel like a valued member of the team.


Servant leadership is about applying the knowledge you’ve learned in the past and share to the team so that they continue to grow.


Stewardship is simply leading by example. It’s your job to set the tone for your team, so don’t ask people to do things you wouldn’t do yourself. 

AND finally…. 

Building community

It’s important to cultivate relationships among your team and also if you want your team to grow, you’ve got to invest in people. Build a community that supports each other, help each other in need and you will see the bonding sets for itself.

Today, the Nizam city has turned into a reverberating metropolitan, its laid-back traditional essence is still evident in the pulse of the city. Wherever there is a friendly conversation, debate, or a brainstorming meet happening, “there’s always a presence of chai”. 



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