• This forum contains old posts that have been closed. New threads and replies may not be made here. Please navigate to the relevant forum to create a new thread or post a reply.
  • Welcome to Tamil Brahmins forums.

    You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our Free Brahmin Community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

    If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact contact us.

Masala dosa to die for--The story of Saravana Bhavan's meteoric rise

Status
Not open for further replies.

praveen

Life is a dream
Staff member
How Saravana Bhavan owner got away with Murder!

Quite an interesting article from NY Times.

Born into a low caste in a remote province, he came to rule a field that was once the sole domain of Brahmins, cleverly updating their traditional fare in a setting that was both respectable and unpretentious, thereby catering to India’s middle class at just the moment it emerged. Today he employs more than 8,000 people in Chennai alone. His workers enjoy benefits fantastic enough for Silicon Valley (pensions, TVs, education), inspiring among them fierce loyalty to Rajagopal. Every day thousands of pilgrims come to pray at the temples he built in the village of his birth, and a hundred thousand come to eat in his restaurants.

Read the full story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/magazine/masala-dosa-to-die-for.html?_r=0
 
All About SARAVANA BHAVAN-Masala Dosa to Die For

All About SARAVANA BHAVAN-Masala Dosa to Die For


( THIS SUBJECT IS ALREADY POSTED BY vegane Sai, in General Section, I did not see that , sorry about it
Requested praveen Sir to delete this post )


Saravana Bhavan doesn’t look like a house of secrets. Its dining room at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 26th Street is clean and bright and often attracts a line out front. It doesn’t advertise because it doesn’t need to; the fact that it’s one of the world’s largest chains of vegetarian restaurants — 33 in India, another 47 in a dozen other countries — is considered too obvious to its core clientele of Indian expatriates and tourists to be worth trumpeting. In a city overwhelmed with underwhelming north Indian food, Saravana Bhavan is the standard-bearer of the delicacies of the south, but it makes no effort to educate the uninitiated. If you don’t know what a dosa is or how to eat it, you’re on your own.


The man behind the chain is an elusive 66-year-old named P. Rajagopal. Among his peers in the restaurant business in Chennai, the south Indian city where Saravana Bhavan is headquartered, Rajagopal is a legend. “He brought prestige to the vegetarian business,” said a restaurateur named Manoharan, who runs a competing chain called Murugan Idli. “He made a revolution.”


Born into a low caste in a remote province, he came to rule a field that was once the sole domain of Brahmins, cleverly updating their traditional fare in a setting that was both respectable and unpretentious, thereby catering to India’s middle class at just the moment it emerged. Today he employs more than 8,000 people in Chennai alone. His workers enjoy benefits fantastic enough for Silicon Valley (pensions, TVs, education), inspiring among them fierce loyalty to Rajagopal. Every day thousands of pilgrims come to pray at the temples he built in the village of his birth, and a hundred thousand come to eat in his restaurants.


His business model is so seemingly foolproof that the company has acquired an air of invincibility, even as its founder became sullied with scandal. As Saravana Bhavan went global, Rajagopal was charged with murder, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Yet he served a total of only 11 months, and today he’s free to continue his expansion — next stop Hong Kong, followed by Sydney, Australia. And then, if his health holds out, building his first luxury hotel.


Saravana Bhavan specializes in the holy trinity of south Indian snacks known as tiffin: dosa, idli and vada. All are made from ground rice and lentils, with remarkably different results. Dosas are crispy golden crepes that are most deliciously served with a masala of potato and onion; vadas are deep-fried savory doughnuts; and idlis, the south’s staple food, are pure-white saucer-shaped steamed cakes. At most branches of Saravana Bhavan in Chennai, you can also find for sale a little book titled, “I Set My Heart on Victory.” First published in 1997, the book is Rajagopal’s memoir and manifesto, a curious blend of mythmaking and self-effacement.


His story begins in 1947, 10 days before India’s independence from the British, when he was born in the vast brushland in the southern state Tamil Nadu. His village, Punnaiadi, was so inconsequential that it didn’t merit a bus stop; his home was a shack with mud-and-cow-dung floors. Rajagopal writes that he quit school after seventh grade, left home alone and took a job wiping tables at a cheap restaurant in a distant resort town, where he showered in a waterfall and slept on the kitchen floor. But he was proud of his work, especially after the restaurant’s tea master inducted him into the mysteries of making a perfect chai.
When he was a teenager, he moved to Chennai, then known as Madras, and in 1968 opened the first in a series of tiny groceries on the outskirts of the city. One day in 1979, at his grocery in a neighborhood called KK Nagar, a salesman made a casual remark: He’d have to go all the way to T Nagar for lunch because KK Nagar didn’t have any restaurants.

A century ago, there were virtually no restaurants in all of Chennai. “It’s a country that was very conservative about eating out,” said Krishnendu Ray, a food-studies professor at N.Y.U. When Rajagopal was born, the restaurant scene consisted of little more than Brahmin hotels: modest affairs catering to the traveling upper caste, whose dietary rules dictated that they couldn’t eat food cooked by any caste but their own. As a member of the Nadar caste, Rajagopal wouldn’t have been allowed to eat in most Brahmin hotels, let alone run one. But by the time he came of age, entrepreneurs from other castes had begun to meet Chennai’s increasing appetite for dining out.


There was little to suggest that Rajagopal was ready to join them. When he opened his debut restaurant in KK Nagar in 1981, his struggling shops had left him deep in debt, and he knew little about food service beyond selling groceries. He made the leap, he told me, only after an astrologer recommended that he try a line of work that involved fire. A business adviser insisted that he should use cheap ingredients and pay his staff as little as possible; food workers are vagabonds, he said, and they’ll take what they can get. “I did not like his argument at all,” Rajagopal writes in his memoir. He fired the adviser, started using coconut oil and top-quality vegetables and gave his workers surprisingly high wages. The business lost 10,000 rupees a month — a big deficit for a restaurant where most items on the menu sold for a rupee apiece.


But word spread that his food was tasty and cheap, and soon Rajagopal was turning a profit and opening new branches. He expanded his workers’ benefits, all of them unprecedented in Indian restaurants: free health care, housing stipends, a marriage fund for their daughters. Saravana Bhavan workers started calling him Annachi, a Tamil term of respect that means “elder brother.”

By the ‘90s, a Saravana Bhavan could be found in neighborhoods throughout Chennai. Locals sometimes refer to the brand as their version of McDonald’s: well lit, ubiquitous and uncannily consistent. Unlike McDonald’s, the restaurants make everything from scratch. One afternoon, a trio of bright-eyed assistants from the company’s R & D department gave me a tour of the branch in Mylapore, a Chennai neighborhood. I was surprised to find that there were no freezers, just a single walk-in cooler for vegetables that had been bought at market the day before. Even the rice flour for the dosas was ground on the premises.


When the tour was over, the assistants talked to me about Rajagopal. “He is the same as the father of a family,” one said. “Any problem I have, he addresses it.” The company pays for employees to visit Rajagopal’s home village for a few days each year, he told me, driving them down in a company bus. “When I go there, I can witness all the love and affection the village people have for Annachi.”


I asked if the company had cut back on its package of benefits as it has grown. “They’ve only been increasing,” a second assistant said. The company provides them with magazine subscriptions, a cellphone and a motorbike, he said, and covers the cost of fuel. (The only benefit it discontinued was a haircut allowance.)
“And we have mechanics so that we don’t have to go outside to fix our vehicles,” the third told me.
“My friend used to joke with me, ‘The only thing you can do with your salary is put it in the bank and save it,’ ” the second assistant said. “They take care of everything.”

In 2000, Saravana Bhavan branched out for the first time beyond India, opening a franchise in Dubai, where Indian expats vastly outnumber native-born Emiratis. According to Rajagopal’s elder son, Shiva Kumaar, the opening-day crowd was like “for a newly released movie.” They’d eventually expand to Paris, Frankfurt, London, Dallas and Doha, Qatar. The strategy is simple: open one restaurant in every city with a large expat Indian population. (One exception is Manhattan, which has two.) Prey on homesickness by importing skilled chefs to ensure that the food tastes just the way it does in Chennai. Don’t bother trying to pursue non-Indian customers.
In 2002, the year that he opened franchises in Singapore and Sunnyvale, Calif., Rajagopal was charged with murdering the husband of a woman he wanted to marry. In 2003, his restaurant expanded to Canada, Oman and Malaysia, and he went to jail for the first time. In 2004, a local Chennai court sentenced him to 10 years in prison. By the end of that year, the empire had opened 29 branches worldwide.

Eight months into his prison term, the Supreme Court suspended Rajagopal’s sentence on medical grounds while awaiting appeal, citing his diabetes. In 2009, the Madras High Court not only upheld the verdict but also upgraded the conviction from culpable homicide to murder and enhanced his sentence to life in prison. After another three-month stint, he was out on bail pending a Supreme Court hearing, which no one expects to happen anytime soon. The courts won’t give him back his passport, but otherwise he’s free to go about his life. All but one of Saravana Bhavan’s 47 foreign franchises have opened in the 12 years since the murder.

“It’s amazing how he managed it,” said Sriram V., a local historian. “I mean, our legal system is not that bad.”
Chennai’s tabloids published every lurid detail of the murder allegations, but the restaurant just kept growing. “Others in that position would have totally collapsed,” said Manoharan, of the competing chain Murugan Idli. “People thought he was finished. But there was no impact.”
Continue reading the main story
‘He takes boys from the street, from the villages, and he teaches them. He picks them up and molds them.’


It helped that Rajagopal has little interest in personal fame; he promotes the restaurant’s brand, not his own, which makes it easier for customers to compartmentalize. As one Saravana Bhavan loyalist told me: “Some of my friends used to say, How can you go and eat in his restaurant? You’re actually fattening the wallet of a murderer. And I used to tell them, Look, I don’t know with whom I do business in my day-to-day activity, whether he’s a drunk or beats his wife. I have no idea, but I do business. So as long as he’s giving me good-quality food, I go there.”


Saravana Bhavan employees have been especially faithful. M. Mahadevan, a consultant who has helped with the chain’s international expansion, told me a story to illustrate their devotion. “I was at the Saravana Bhavan down the road, drinking coffee with some friends,” Mahadevan said. “The old man” — that’s what Mahadevan calls Rajagopal — “was in prison at that time. These big hulky guys came in, eight of them — they were local rowdies. They wanted to eat without paying. One of them was bullying the waiter, saying: ‘Hey, mister, how’s your boss? Don’t act funny, I know he’s inside.’ There was a boy pouring water, and he told them: ‘You’re talking about my boss. You say anything against him, and I’ll put this jug of water into your mouth. Not on you — into your mouth.’ I was astonished. The boy was three-foot-nothing. And immediately all the waiters came and stood next to him.
“For him, the old man was a god. Period. He’s got that kind of loyalty. He takes boys from the street, from the villages, and he teaches them. He picks them up and molds them.”


One gloomy Wednesday evening in August, I went to meet Rajagopal at Saravana Bhavan’s headquarters, passing several of his restaurants as I inched my way through the city’s eternal gridlock. Mahadevan met me in the dining room and escorted me to the boss’s office, introducing me on the way to Rajagopal’s 39-year-old son, Saravanan, who is gradually taking over the company’s domestic operations. (His elder brother, Shiva Kumaar, runs the international business.) For a while the three of us sat and stared at the walls: Every surface was covered with blown-up images of Rajagopal’s family and favorite Hindu deities. Then suddenly Mahadevan and Saravanan rose. The office door swung open, and Rajagopal entered.


He was grayer and jowlier than he was in the photographs I’d seen. He regarded the room with mild amusement, bowed politely and walked behind his desk, where he faced a portrait of a popular guru and folded his hands for a moment of prayer. With him was Ganapathi Iyer, his oldest friend, and a personal assistant and a valet. We all sat but the valet, who stood ready with a glass of water the instant his boss coughed. Nobody relaxed.
I asked Rajagopal about his origins and business philosophy. Each question was answered with a cascade of replies: Rajagopal would answer in Tamil, then Saravanan or Mahadevan or Iyer or all three would jump in to elaborate or clarify in English, a language Rajagopal doesn’t understand. It was a dynamic that sometimes clearly frustrated the boss.


When I asked about the murder, everyone started talking at once, until Rajagopal cut impatiently through the chatter. “I’m not responsible for anyone’s death,” he said. “I used to pray to my god, why was I punished for someone else’s mistake?” There was a reason, he decided: “God wanted to give an opportunity for my son Saravanan to learn business.” Saravanan smiled faintly.

Photo
11murder5-articleLarge.jpg


P. Rajagopal, founder of Saravana Bhavan restaurants, with his assistant, Suresh. Credit Mahesh Shantaram for The New York Times



PLEASE READ MORE FROM HERE:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/magazine/masala-dosa-to-die-for.html?smid=fb-share&smv2&_r=0
 
Last edited:
Sorry vgane Sir did not see your post.

I had requested praveen Sir to delete this post.
 
Last edited:

renuka

Well-known member
Hey why is this article painting a picture as if this guy is God?

I was wondering why a TB is actually working for a Boss that eyes his employers wife and daughters?

Isnt the TB afraid in case he eyes his wife or daughters?


It is clearly stated that his second wife was the wife of one of his employee..it did not state that she was a widow of his employee but..so why did the employee allow his wife to marry his Boss?

Strange right?

And I think he thinks that money can get you anything cos he told the girl he wanted to marry as his 3rd wife that initially his 2nd wife also protested but now she is living like a queen!

This guy thinks that he can force his way with woman just becos he has money.

I am totally not impressed with his rags to riches story.

For me I think he is an Employer with Benefits that is he knows to keep employees happy and indebted to him so that they cant refuse anything when he asks them any special favor.

What I am surprised is..at the end of the article he states that he wonders why he went to jail may be cos God wanted his son to learn business!LOL

I was think "yeah right! ..He should have learned from his jail stint not to force himself on women who are unwilling to marry him"

But the best part is the girl whose boyfriend was killed..she did not like Mr Rajagopal but she did not mind accepting his gifts!LOL

Cant stop laughing..Darling Yeh Hai India!

This is really a Masala Dosa alright!
 
Last edited:
renukaji
This man has a rags to riches story . also the food he doles out is excellent

He also has a seamier side

Taking away his employees wife because she fascinated him

or being accused of sending a man to heaven because , he coveted his wife'

He appears to have a feudal mindset .

I have seen such characters being depicted in Shyam bengal movies Ankur , Nishant

Both relating to carrying away forcibly wives of poor men by local brats of zamindar and having

them as mistresses in their homes . the women also accept and also start liking them after

initially despising. Poor men are helpless , until one such man hurt moblilises the village and

annihilate the rich brats and the family

Such things happen in movies alone .

The power of money and the indian legal system is such that it may take years that justice is

done. mostly witnesses are bought off , evidence is destroyed so that the case fails and culprits

go scot free
.
when one is poor and there is no alternative , ladies come to terms with atrocitees and take what

they can get out of it like gifts to make an easy living. in this case , I understand he gave money

to set up a travel agency or something like that , I do not recall
 

renuka

Well-known member
Dear Krish ji,

There is no excuse for such behavior these days.

What surprises me if how these women also stay on with such males? Stockholm Syndrome or the lure of money? I thought TN females bragged the most of being virtuous?LOL
 
Last edited:

tbs

0
hi

money and fame makes more dangerous activities in life....here may be some political support....my family visited NYC saravana

bhavan....they all appreciated....i visited NJ saravana bhavan.....its fine...a nice south indian feelings...
 

tks

0
I am not all that impressed with the Saravana Bhavan locations I visited in North America.
Except for some presentation aspects of an order they seemed to be like any other second rate Indian vegetarian restaurants.
 
Dear Krish ji,

There is no excuse for such behavior these days.

What surprises me if how these women also stay on with such males? Stockholm Syndrome or the lure of money? I thought TN females bragged the most of being virtuous?LOL
Renukaji ,
have unedited version of your post in my mail.with what you would like to do to with these men

I can understand your feelings


when the ladies are housewives and not much educated they are helpless and dependent on males for subsistence. the dilemma is higher


for brahmin poor . other castes take to domestic work or selling vegetables and become economic entities. hence the brahmin poor are

more likely to compromise.it is too attractive an option as to not take it as it will save them a life of hard work. there is an element

of double speak as virtuosity is expected and not practising it turning a blind eye for good life also happens .

it happens with men also . what we project and brag about outside and what we think and do what is contradictory not conforming to

what we preach
 

renuka

Well-known member
I think people get carried away easily becos of money and status.

I remember when I newly opened my clinic..one doctor from another clinic kind of far away had come to my clinic to see me to discuss any deals that I can make with him.

He brought a gift hamper for me and then he started his talk with me totally like Medical Mafia Don style where he was saying that I should join his group of clinics as a franchise otherwise he might consider opening a clinic just right next to mine and that would surely affect my business.

He said I need to pay him a slight percentage to use his name and to be able to join his group of panel companies.(the offer was actually good no doubt cos we get to have company patients that were his panel)..but I did not like the way he was threatening to join him or else style he had.

He thought I would get scared of him..so I coolly took out a business card of a real estate agent I knew who was in charge of the shop lot next to mine.

I told him "you can contact this real estate agent..the shop lot next to mine is for rental and you may set up your clinic there..kindly take back your gift hamper"

He left quietly..he actually tried the same stunts with another doctor who was a former army captain and that doctor panicked and joined the group practice!LOL

You see there is a method for everything..I dont like people getting arrogant becos of success and money and then try to dictate terms.

Even though his offer was actually good ..I did not like the manner he handled himself.I rather not deal with such people.
 
Last edited:
you might have the spunk to do it

besides you have a family back up to take a stand

even without it some driven by convictions take a stand and pay a price .

my boss a lady sacrificed a DGM position in govt . on stand based on conviction.

she thought her resignation would not be accepted as in those days she was holding a position no other lady had risen to.

she quit and coolly stayed home and preferred to be a housewife and never worked again .

she valued her convictions which others thought were not worth shouting about and her demands were not acceded to.

actually she was a vp of officers association fighting for a cause

a lot of activists in academics behave like this

we have a lady english prof .in delhi univ. taking on the head of a minority christian college which is fixing her for stands against him for diverting money for OBCs to buy laptops . she also caught him over his doctorate thesis which was not in order and victimising students wrongly . she has gone to court to get a stay on enquiry against her by the university .

mostly only ladies do that . men simply cave in andaccept unjust order
 
OP
OP
V

vgane

0
The owners second wife was coveted from a TB priest...While the wife was making snacks Annachi fell for her..The priest ashamed of this ran away from home..This story had come in Junior Vikatan too..Shame on Annachi too for coveting an employee!
 

renuka

Well-known member
The owners second wife was coveted from a TB priest...While the wife was making snacks Annachi fell for her..The priest ashamed of this ran away from home..This story had come in Junior Vikatan too..Shame on Annachi too for coveting an employee!


What??? You mean to say his 2nd wife is a TB? Why did she agree to become his wife? Why did the TB priest run away..didnt he want to defend his wife?

In the link given in the OP it stated that his second wife is his employee's wife...it does not say anywhere she is a wife of a priest.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
V

vgane

0
What??? You mean to say his 2nd wife is a TB? Why did she agree to become his wife? Why did the TB priest run away..didnt he want to defend his wife?

In the link given in the OP it stated that his second wife is his employee's wife...it does not say anywhere she is a wife of a priest.

Not in this..I am unable to trace the reference at this point
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top
Thank you for visiting TamilBrahmins.com

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.

We depend on advertising to keep our content free for you. Please consider whitelisting us in your ad blocker so that we can continue to provide the content you have come here to enjoy.

Alternatively, consider upgrading your account to enjoy an ad-free experience along with numerous other benefits. To upgrade your account, please visit the account upgrades page

You can also donate financially if you can. Please Click Here on how you can do that.

I've Disabled AdBlock    No Thanks