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Residents of Mulund know what to do about hunger pangs in the dead of the night. A misal-pav stall run by the Tellis family has been dishing out the street favourite between 4 am and 7 am for long enough to do without advertising. From selling tea, driving an autorickshaw and now selling misal, the Tellis family has always preferred the night to make a living. Elar Tellis, popularly known as Michael, came to Mumbai from his native Mangalore 45 years ago. Starting off with a tea stall, the story of his misal-pav joint at Sarvodaya Nagar in Mulund West unfolds at night. The joint mainly attracts corporate employees who work until the early hours, along with a younger crowd on their way home from late night parties.
“I had a tea stall in Mangalore, but as I didn’t earn enough for my family, I came to Mumbai when I was 14 years old on my friend’s suggestion. I initially started working at stalls at the Andheri railway station and later, worked at Bandra. But I always wanted to have my own business,” Michael said. He then started selling tea in Mulund along with his two younger brothers.
“After working with others for five years, I learnt how to run a business in Mumbai, so I started my own and got my two brothers Marshal and Xavier on board,” said Michael, adding that he had been witness to the transformation of the eastern suburb of Mulund from a forest area to a residential one.
“I would start selling tea at 4 am as I was told that in Mumbai, I would end up earning more money as people usually step out at night and look for tea stalls. However, I didn’t earn much by selling tea. We then took a loan and bought a rickshaw which my brother would drive. He drove during night hours and I would drive during the day after selling tea in the early hours,” he said.
With a loan to repay, Michael then decided to make good on his idea to start an eatery. In the initial days of his tea stall, a family ran an eatery next to it, recalled Michael. However, suddenly one day, the family closed the stall and disappeared.
Michael’s son Santosh Tellis said: “My father saw that the eatery had been closed for many days, following which he got the idea of starting his own. Then, we set up the stall and started selling misal from 3 am to 7 am. During the initial days, we were incurring heavy losses as we didn’t attract too many customers. But, after Ganesh Chaturthi, we started getting business and we started recovering the losses. People would come to our stall after
visarjan and eat misal, and that is how word spread across Mulund.” Since then, the Tellis family has been running a misal joint at night, following which they return to their day jobs — the father runs a tea stall and the son is employed with an online shopping portal.
Michael and Santosh wake up at 2 am, and after preparing a hearty dish of misal, the duo start selling it at around 4 am. “I have to sleep early at night so that I can wake up early, following which I have to report to my job at 10 am. As my father is ageing, we have also hired two person to take care of our tea stall while my father supervises the business during the day,” said Santosh.
The midnight misal is served at Rs 40 per plate with two pavs. The stall also sells taripav at Rs 10 per piece. They attract customers from Ghatkopar, Powai, Thane, Bhandup and Airoli. “In taripav, we basically mix ingredients of misal, like sprouts, moth beans, farsan, tomatoes, onions, boiled potatoes, lemon and coriander and then hand it over to the customer,” said Santosh. Between 4 am and 6 am, the joint is crowded with customers, and many of them end up asking for takeaways.
A resident of Mulund, Varun Ghatani, said: “My personal favourite is taripav, and whenever I go out with my friends for night-outs, I see to it that I visit Michael and eat taripav.”