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Popular Bijoli drink to make a comeback

Calcutta, Dec. 24: Ice Cream Soda, a popular cold drink in the late seventies and eighties, is being relaunched.

The drink was introduced by catering company Bijoli Grill in 1978 and helped fill a gap left behind by Coca-Cola’s exit from the country under the then Fera regulations.

NRI entrepreneur Kunal Sarkar, director of Aerated Water Company, which bought over the production facility at Behala from Bijoli Grill, has upgraded the factory so that it can now make orange and pineapple drinks as well.

M.K. Sarkar, a director of MFC Group, promoter of Aerater Water, told The Telegraph that over Rs 3 crore has been spent to upgrade the bottling plant to make up to 20,000 cases of 24 bottles per shift.

“Dealers are nostalgic about the brand. They had assured to give us a head start after the relaunch,’’ Sarkar said.

The soda virtually ruled the summer drink market in the eighties. During its peak period, Bijoli Grill produced up to 1,000 crates per shift. However, management problems following the owner’s ill health, coupled with the entry of Pepsi and Coca-Cola in the early nineties, hit sales. The plant was finally closed in 2005.

MFC Group, which is into film production, real estate and township development, is also looking forward to take the brand beyond Bengal. Sarkar said negotiations were already on with prospective partners in Chennai, Chandigarh and Pune.

“We could sell the brand and technology or establish franchisees in other cities,’’ Sarkar said.

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