BANGALORE: Restaurant chain Adyar Ananda Bhavan has come a long way since its inception as a small sweet stall in Bangalore over three decades ago.
Entrepreneur late K S Thirupathi Raja passed on the torch to his sons K T Venkatesan and K T Srinivasa Raja, who have taken the business to great heights with 98 branches all over the country.
City Express had honoured the restaurant chain with the Best South Indian Tiffin Award earlier this year, while the Indian American Business Promotion Council called Srinivasa Raja 'King of Indian Sweets' in May 2011. The State Legislatures of New Jersey and Connecticut and New York City Council joined in to felicitate Raja for his corporate social responsibility and entrepreneurship in the same year.
With most outlets in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Adyar Ananda Bhavan specialises in South Indian cuisine. Asked what sets them apart from other restaurants, Raja says, “We have a big menu that appeals to people of ages 6 to 60. We have sweets and tangy savouries and snacks with less spice for children; chat items, pizzas and exotic spicy dishes for youngsters as well as traditional meals and North Indian specialties for older people.”
He further says, “We pay attention to our customers’ tastes and modify our menu every three to six months. We also adjust our recipes according to the location and customer preferences. For instance, we avoid using garlic and onion at our branch in Malleswaram, as our customers are mostly Brahmins.”
International food chains and other fast food outlets have taken away a huge chunk of the restaurant’s clientele, says Raja, adding that the Chinese, Mexican and Italian dishes on the menu were added in an attempt to bring them back.
“However, our pizzas and other foreign dishes are more Indianised. We make our own sauces and toppings to ensure good taste and quality,” he says, adding, “Our Chettinad Pizza is quite popular.”
Speaking about the challenges involved in managing a restaurant chain, Raja says, “It’s becoming difficult to count on quality agricultural produce these days. We are doing our best to be self-reliant. We even make our own coffee powder. But when we import ingredients like rice and sugar, the taste differs and it becomes a challenge to maintain our signature flavours.”
He goes on to add, “Labour is also becoming expensive. And that is not something that can be compromised, as good service is one of our best features.”
Can we expect Adyar Ananda Bhavan to go online anytime soon? “We’re working on it,” says Raja.
“We did take a shot at home delivery sometime back, but it didn’t work out. It became difficult for our staff to take orders while simultaneously catering to a full house.”