CHENNAI: Trays loaded with sumptuous boondi ladoo, adhirasam, jangiri, manoharam, thattai and crispy kai murukku are neatly stacked behind the glass shelves. The heady aroma of coconut oil wafting from the kitchen is tempting and comforting. Ranga Vilas Sweets and Savouries in Anna Nagar, which is bustling with crowds. Along with the other staff members, the owner, Mythili Padmanabhan, is busy packing delicacies and interacting with her patrons.
While a set of piping hot somasi (savoury version of somas) and poli are being prepared, we catch up with Mythili for a quick chat. “This shop is a result of appa’s vision and hard work. He worked in the Middle East. Once he decided to come to the city for good, he charted out the possible business options. Homemade snacks and savouries topped the list. Appa heard of someone called Thayyumami from Mylapore who was an expert in kai murukku and thattai. He used to bring her to our house, ask her to prepare them and sell samples door-to-door. The shop was set up in 1986 in Anna Nagar AA Block first street. We moved to the Seventh Main Road eight years back,” says Mythili who took over the business in 2011.
Mythili’s father Padmanabhan A was particular about having production and sales in the same place. The shop employs 12-13 people who’re involved in the kitchen and packing process. Alamelu mami has been working at the shop for 28 years. She knows all her customers by name and their preferences. People ask specifically for mami on phone before visiting the shop. “Padmanabhan sir treated us all equally. He was a perfectionist and a disciplined man. The shop was a service and not a business to him. He was down-to-earth and used to interact with every customer. They’d be offered water and feedback was always welcome. Right from opening until shutting down, he was in the shop round the clock,” she says.
Wheat halwa, mixture, seedai, mysore pak are other specialties here. The savouries are made using coconut oil and prepared without onions and garlic. Third-generation customers continue to drop in. The kids are fond of tapioca and potato chips, and gulab jamun. People flying abroad take bulk orders before leaving. “The success behind the shop is our team. Tuesday is a holiday and employees feel at home when they come for work. Quality is priority. Our staff members have been with us for a long time. The process of preparing items is standardised, hence the taste is also maintained. We’ve built a loyal set of patrons through word of mouth. Our items are pocket-friendly and limited. We stick to traditional sweets. We do not have an online presence or home-delivery options. We’d like to take things slowly. Our definition of growth is different,” said Mythili whose native place is Tirunelveli.
Meanwhile, a customer interrupts her saying, “Why don’t you try sweet somas and suyyam? We hardly get these sweets anywhere. It would be nice to revisit our grandma’s recipes.”
The list of other items available at the shop include vathal, vadam, appalam, powders, mix, and pickles. Once the stock for the day is exhausted, the particular item is available only the next day. Evenings are peak hours. Business in during festivals like Deepavali is a different scenario. The shop closes the counter sale and concentrates on orders. “We’d like to include millet-based and nutritious options. If I come across an interesting traditional sweet then I wouldn’t mind including it in the menu,” says Mythili.
Address: No 73/1. 7th main road, AH block, Shanthi colony, Anna Nagar. The store is closed on Tuesday.
The list of items available include boondi ladoo, adhirasam, jangiri, manoharam, wheat halwa, mixture, seedai, mysore pak, thattai and crispy kai murukku, vathal, vadam, appalam, powders, mix, and pickles. Once the stock for the day is exhausted, the particular item is available only the next day.