Hotel Saravana Bhavan – The real Indian Multinational

I would be stupid if I tell people about Saravana Bhavan and its food. Everyone knows about it. And no one is interested to read it. But, it was today I actually realised how big these guys were. And while Videocon may be praising itself of being the ‘Indian Multinational’, I actually think Saravana Bhavan fits the bill better. This is how. They started 25 years ago, if I’m right in our very own KK Nagar in Chennai. Today, they have 18 branches in the city itself, with 2 in Kanchipuram and one in Vellore. Not to mention the 3 in Delhi. But, what is more interesting is his international footprint. 5 branches in UAE, 1 in Oman, 2 each in Singapore and Malaysia, 1 in UK, 2 in Canada and 3 in the United States of America. That’s a spread that will rival any software company. His employee welfare schemes will beat any Fortune 500 company hands down and he has one of the lowest attrition rates in the country. From being a pure South Indian restaurant today he offers chat, tandoori, chinese, italian, has a bakery of his own, dairy rich ice creams, sweets and a door deli with equal finesse. And what a lovely business model he works on, ‘Buy on credit, sell on cash’. Despite the crowds, he will never miss to garnish your Sambar Vadai with Onions and Coriander and could even be running for a sigma certification and rival McDonalds for the speed of delivery. All started from this great city of Chennai. Hats off to these guys, take a bow!!

15 Comments so far

  1. F e r r a r i (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 1:37 am

    Ivlo panraar. 360 kms andha pakkam. Bangalore la oru branch open pannina punyama pogum. Seri bangalore veNdaam. Atleast hosur?

  2. nastikan (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 6:19 am

    but the chat is horrible.

    he should stick to what he knows best — good tiffin and awful service.

    and that ad with the couple falling in love at sb and breeding is really scary.

  3. suppamani (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 7:55 am

    Ofcourse no commments about the taste and the quality of the food stuff. What about the quantity and price charges. It seems that they are giving the stufs only to taste and not to quich your hunger. I feel , they can even chargea bit more( already theeir charges are at the highest the visitors feel )and serve some more quqntity to satisfy your hunger.

  4. Keerthivasan (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 9:41 am
  5. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 10:02 am

    Taste is good, cost is too much. Why is it HSB has not ventured into Mumbai ? Heard that HSB has implemented ERP in their hotels at Chennai.

  6. Mukunth (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 10:13 am

    Cost is a 3 much! And in the “new” outlet that has been opened in Ashok Nagar, would you believe a dosa costs Rs.76 upstairs and Rs.40 downstairs!! A dinner for two cost me Rs.400 in Saravana Bhavan and Rs.500 in The Residency in G.N.Chetty Road!!

  7. Lavanya (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 10:49 am

    Vinod – did you go to their new Mylapore outlet yet? I was there a few days ago after hearing so much about how “different” it is from the other branches.

    So there we were in the first floor – yet another Swathi I think (like Peter’s Road) and the same man from Peter’s Road confronts us with the menu card! The setup is very much a Peter’s Road clone but a much bigger fast food area on the ground floor.

    Somehow, personally, I am quite fed up of SB’s food. I dare not say anything about the coffee though – pretty good.

    However your post about SB being the real Indian Multinational is quite an accurate assessment, I don’t refute that.

  8. Soap (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

    I think their first outlet was at Vadapalani….
    Then started out with the others…..

    One more snippet is tat, the only place they closed down due to whatever reason is at Planet Yumm Besant Nagar….giving way to Sangeetha….not sure whats there right now….

  9. Ravi (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 12:40 pm

    In addition to what Vinod said, the other goods things are : the waiter/supervisor will never question when you say you dislike something, he will replace it immediately; the service time is so quick inspite of the huge menu items; inspite of the crowd, the supervisor manages to find you a seat within – maybe 10 mins max (not sure about the A/c rooms though).

    But what I totally detest is the pricing. Agreed that you can be rest assured that you will not have a stomach upset on consuming food at SB but still the price is atrocious and that too all the accomplices like sambhar, chutney are limited (one way this prevents people from lavishly wasting food items)!

    But whatever said and done, SB has become the icon of Madras! The second question that is posed (generally by North Indians) to colleagues returning from Chennai after US visa stamping is “Did you visit Saravana Bhavan?”

  10. Ravages (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 3:11 pm

    The first outlet was indeed KK Nagar. Vadapalani later became their main branch and head office.

  11. Prabhu (unregistered) on August 2nd, 2006 @ 7:25 pm

    Pricing seems OK compared to NY standards , and HSB is a favorite eatout for my “gora” colleagues !

  12. Digital Gnane (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2006 @ 3:31 am

    Yes they do have 2 outlets opened here in Toronto, Canada. Quantity is so low and price is very high. Smart guys they have this outlet open next to a Thamil movie theatre.

  13. malai (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 11:45 pm

    yeah price matters…

    as a bachelor I can’t daily afford for HSB..
    in vellore..i usually get there on weekends.
    once a week is ok. thats all…

  14. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on August 6th, 2006 @ 7:11 pm

    It’s in all the guide books.

    The foreigners and the NRIs trust it. My London-based landlady won’t eat anywhere else.

    I think this has gine to their heads, and I’d rather eat somewhere else.

  15. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on August 8th, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

    Having posted a critical comment in all fairness I have to return to redress the balance.

    Being in need of Panneer Butter Masala (it happens) but not close to my favourite place to eat it (VIP in Royapettah) we went to the first-floor restaurant of Saravana Bhavan in Mylapore today.

    It was 4.00pm, not lunchtime or dinner time and the waiter looked doubtful when asked for Panner Tikka Masala. He returned saying that they would cook it for me. It was very pleasant, and the veg fried rice was nice too.

    But the treat of the day was their new range of Fresh Fruit Ice Cream.

    I can tell you now, jack fruit lovers, that I have discovered something better than eating fresh jack fruit: eating Saravana Bhavan’s Fresh Jack Fruit Ice Cream. It was bliss.

    The fact that the bill, for only three dishes between two plus two ice creams and a tea came to nearly Rs300 was not such bliss…

    Got some European friends passing through for a day next month: going to make that an excuse to go back for another serving of that ice cream!

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