Bidding farewell: CHiPs to close doors after 27 years

Published: May 24, 2015
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CHiPS will close next week as the owner wishes to retire and none of his children want to run the place. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

CHiPS will close next week as the owner wishes to retire and none of his children want to run the place. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

After 27 years of serving its famous roast beef burgers at Boat Basin, CHiPs is ready to close shop for good. CHiPs will be serving its last burger till next week.

The owner, SM Chaudhry, told The Express Tribune on Saturday why he decided to shut down the business but he has yet to decide which day next week will be their last. “I live in London and want to retire,” he said. “None of my kids want to run this place.” He added there were other issues, such as safety, dishonest managers and heavy taxes, which led to the decision.

CHiPs started off in December 1988 as a much smaller fast-food joint than it is now. Chaudhry, a self-made man, worked a as waiter in London while he was studying there. Soon after, he came to Karachi with an idea and some equipment to start the restaurant. “I must be the first or second person to introduce pizza in Karachi.”

The TV connection

The story behind the name, CHiPs, is also an interesting one. When Chaudhry was asking around for names for his restaurant, a friend’s son told him: “Uncle, call it Chips, after the CHiPs police officers.” Hence, Chaudhry decided to name it after the famous US television series, called CHiPs, which revolved around the lives of police officers.

CHiPs’ specialty throughout the years has been its roast beef burgers, which started off at the price of Rs20 and now cost Rs230. “They are of good quality that’s why they are so famous,” said Chaudhry.

Back in the day, their main competitor was Mr Burger but Chaudhry, who worked for 12 hours in the kitchen himself, has seen queues outside his restaurant, waiting for them to serve. Some years later, Chaudhry opened a branch on Tariq Road but had to shut it down due to threats from political parties. A kidnapping attempt on him in 1997 forced him to take his family with him to London, from where he continued to manage the business.

As he looked around at the restaurant on Saturday, Chaudhry admitted they had failed to keep up on maintenance. The last time the eatery was renovated was around 10 years ago, he said.

In a week’s time, a bank would be opening up on this site. But until then, the eatery has seen a rise in sales. Since people came to know the restaurant is closing down, CHiPs’ sales have gone up, said its cashier.

Loyal customers

The eatery’s clientele is now spread across the world but they still remember the hangout from their teenage years. Bilal, a young man who was ordering beef burgers, said that he was buying it for his friends in Canada. “They came to know it’s shutting down and asked me to send it to them.” Bilal has been coming to CHiPs for the last 25 years but admitted the place has a lot of competition now.

Some customers are unwilling to accept the shutdown and have even offered to give money so that it keeps running.

Comedian Ali Gul Pir recalled how he and his friends went to CHiPs the first time they bunked school in class eight. “We climbed over the school wall and abandoned the friend who fell down and broke his leg,” he remembered. “We went to CHiPs then.”

Over the years, CHiPs has been a popular hangout for young couples on dates and students bunking schools nearby. It used to be frequented by celebrities, the likes of former singer Junaid Jamshed. In fact, Ali Haider even asked the owner to put up his posters on the windows when he kicked off his career.

“I feel sad that I am closing it down,” said Chaudhry. “But life has to go on.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Khan
    May 24, 2015 - 7:59AM

    I wonder where the famous waiter “Hero” will go!!Recommend

  • Huzefa
    May 24, 2015 - 11:47AM

    Chaudhry Sb, please reopen somewhere in Karachi. We need CHiPs. Perhaps in a mall? I am sure it will do well.

    In anycase thank you for your service and contribution to Karachi.

    Hope you and your family return for good one day.Recommend

  • Ahmed Khan
    May 24, 2015 - 12:39PM

    Chips has been bought by one of its long time customer and the best news is that they plan on relaunching it in DHA after Eid so we can still have our Roast beef burgers

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chips-Fast-Food/853049258099254Recommend

  • Saad
    May 24, 2015 - 1:04PM

    :( Been eating the “chicken cheese burger” for past 20 years and the only reason is the taste & quality remained the same in all these years.Recommend

  • Rizwan Liaqat
    May 24, 2015 - 1:09PM

    What’s sad is that an honest businessman was prevented from expanding his business and eventually forced out of the country by Karachi’s age old political parties. Parties that people still keeping voting in with impunity. This is why the country’s going to the dogs. Only people like Shoaib Ahmad Shaikh thrive here.Recommend

  • May 24, 2015 - 1:22PM

    I will be missing their Beef Roast Burger with Cheese!! Recommend

  • NMA
    May 24, 2015 - 4:26PM

    Will be missed….. another part of childhood in Karachi no more…… Recommend

  • May 24, 2015 - 5:32PM

    Shouldn’t be closing – should do something to help them out or buy it off them – opening up a bank, pleease!! Recommend

  • Mast Malang
    May 24, 2015 - 5:57PM

    Please Nooo!!! Nobody makes roasted chicken burger in the city as delicious as they do. One of my regular take-outs and delivery orders.Recommend

  • Cyra
    May 24, 2015 - 6:49PM

    This is a tragedy. The Chips roast beef burger is the best of its kind. I hope someone buys the franchise. Recommend

  • Hussain
    May 24, 2015 - 7:46PM

    This can’t be happening this place used to be my lunch place at least twice a week, when I was working in Karachi..I will miss you Roast Beef Burger!!!!!Recommend

  • Max
    May 24, 2015 - 10:41PM

    In a week’s time, a bank would be opening up on this site… Oh crap…
    And I was just thinking of CHiPs ‘Roast Beef Burger’ alternative in Karachi… None!!!

    Recommend

  • Imran Khan
    May 25, 2015 - 9:05AM

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    I heard about it day before yesterday and was so surprised. I had alot of childhood and teenage memories. Whenever we get time to dine out and we (friends) cannot decide where to go then it is only CHIPS where we usually end up. I still remember when and how my elder brother took me to this place for the first time. I often take my family here as well. I usually eat pizza over there along with chicken/beef roast burgers with fresh lime. I have a suggestion for the owner of this place. Please do not close it rather look to open somewhere else may be any mall (eg park towers etc) or in the vicinity of DHA.

    May Allah bless you and all your family members, Aa’meen.

    Serve Humanity :)Recommend

  • Fez
    May 25, 2015 - 1:22PM

    i can remember eating chips going back more than 20 years. Every friday night, we would lure our dad to go to chips over china town which mom preferred. We always ordered the standard cheese pizza over the topping ones as their cheese pizzas still taste the same as they did 20 years ago.

    Only yesterday, mom told me over the phone that chips is closing down. I was literally shocked as this is literally where we ate out almost friday night until pizza hut came in and changed it all. However, i visit chips every time in pakistan but that wont be the case anymore.. Will dearly miss their cheese pizza with a single tomato slice in itRecommend

  • Shayaan Tahir
    May 25, 2015 - 2:01PM

    Checking the response I managed to Buy Chips and we shall relaunching in DHA .. We shall get our roast beef burgers again !! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chips-Fast-Food/853049258099254Recommend

  • mfs
    May 25, 2015 - 2:58PM

    Damn. Such a good place is about to be closed. Roasted burgers and chicken chilli were best in town.Recommend

  • Mohammad Hamid Naseer
    May 26, 2015 - 2:46AM

    No doubt CHIPS taste was excellent. I have been there many times with my colleague. I really love their chicken burger so juicy. Choudhry sahab revise your decision and get a better place to run the same CHIPS for your loyal customers !!!Recommend

  • Hashim Zuberi
    Jul 23, 2015 - 9:14PM

    @Khan:
    Hero was never at Chips … he was at Chick N ChipsRecommend

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