The Brands of Madras / Chennai

There are certain brands that are associated with Chennai. Nalli for Sarees, Saravana Bhavan for vegetarian food, Parrys Corner for everything you need to buy and so on.

Then there are brands that once used to define Madras that are no longer there or have lost their glory.

Hotel Buhari in Mount Road, opposite to the Mosque, used to be The place for Briyani and non vegetarian food, till 1980s. Today it is in a sad state of decline, hardly any one goes there anymore for food. The Ponnusamys, Karaikudi and Anjappars have replaced Buhari as famous non vegetarian restaurants.

Readymoney Shoppe pioneered the credit revolution in consumer goods in Madras, again in 1980s. Instalment purchase was made cool with their tagline “Its a great way to shop”. Once the credit card wave started and chain stores like Vivek’s, Vasanth & Co introduced better efficiency in operations, Readymoney Shoppe was gone.

VGP Golden Beach – the first beach resort / amusement park / affordable weekend get away for citizens of Madras. Almost every Tamil movie in 1980s had a song picturised in the Golden Beach. It still attracts crowds, though it doesn’t command the same respect as it used to in its heydays. The new upmarket resorts like Fisherman’s cove, GRT have taken the sheen and upmarket customers off VGP.

These are some of the brands that have seen better days. Can you add anything to the list?

23 Comments so far

  1. sathish (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

    Pallavan bus is another symbol of Madras that has lost its sheen. PTC used to be so good during the 80s and i still remember the bus passes and free rides i had in our own “Pallavan”.

    I hate this MTC. The name Pallavan gave the bus a character and life to those buses

  2. thelearner (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    Anybody know a place called “Velu Military Mess”? I think it’s somewhere in Chetpet/Anna Nagar, but I’m not sure. It achieved legendary status when I was in college for its beer and chicken. Not sure about it now.

  3. Kaps (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

    How about Aavin, Aavin parlours etc?

  4. thelearner (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

    Also wanted to ask if the Kai Yendhi bhavan in front of Brilliant Tutorials, T nagar is still running. Are there still heavy crowds there?

  5. Kaps (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

    The Learner,
    Velu Military Hotel used to be quite popular. I have noticed one branch in Village Road (near Nungambakkam Police Station), quite close to the junction of Village Road and Nungambakkam High Road.

  6. Muthiah (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 2:58 pm

    Kaiyendhi Bavan on Masilamani Street (Brilliants) is definitely an item to add to the list

  7. senthil (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 3:24 pm

    yes u right gopal … buhari once use to rule all the reaturaunts …my father always use to talk about the briyani u get there . if u see nowdays hardly u can people in teh restaurant, and the service and quality has come down like anything .roadside kkaa briyani is better than the one you eat here.

  8. Jacky (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 3:28 pm


  9. vinod (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

    how about Rita Ice Cream…

    or even Standard Motors..

  10. Chenthil (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

    Satish – Pallavan as a brand? I doubt it, as a symbol yes. Still you find people calling it as Pallavan and not as MTC.

    The learner – Velu Military has an outlet in Nungambakkam, but not as iconic as it was.

    Kaps – Aavin yes.

    Muthiah – We are looking at brands, I doubt Kaiyendi Bhavan will make the cut.

    Jacky – Higginbothams is one I missed, they are doing ok, but Landmark is beating them.

    Vinod – I wouldn’t want Standard Motors to be associated with Madras :-). That was a flop from the start. Rita Ice creams? I have no idea, can you elaborate.

  11. Ravi (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

    Yes, my uncles and parents are in all praise for “Buharis” (during the 70’s). I guess it was started by few brothers from Thirunelveli Muslim community. But the descendents could not keep up the quality.

    Another good joint was “Woodlands”, where drive-in concept was introduced in Madras.

    “Dasaprakash” was known for its icecreams and dosas (do we still get dasaprakash icecreams outisde the hotel?) Both these hotels were started by people originally from Karnataka. For veg food, one had to look to the chain of “Udipi” hotels.

    “VGP” was best in that it was the first theme part in Madras and also you would get a snack for the 10 rupees you pay as entrance fee. Even today it is the most affordable theme park. And VGP company was also the pioneer in bringing installment payment for house hold good. I was told that with this trend during early 70’s, one could find almost all narikuravas with a transistor!

    For bakery items, I guess it was “McRennett” and “Spencers”. “Adyar Bakery” joined them during 80’s.

    Supermaket concept was popularised by Spencers initially and then was brought up in a big way by our very own State Govt. called “Kamadhenu”. I think the first one was at Teynampet, more popularly known as “Teynampet supermarket” (as in “En kanmani” song).

    In terms of textiles stores, it was “Co-optex” and the “Vaanavil” outlet at Teynampet was the most visited one.

    Then as Kaps put it, for icecreams we had “Aavin”. I esp loved the pista and orange colour cone icecreams at the Adyar parlour.

    For steel cupboards then, it used to be “TANSI” (promoted by the state government). I think there was a showroom somewhere in Royapettah. Then Godrej became popular.

    For watches (like the huge, metal HMT watches), “Doshi & Doshi” had a chain of retail outlets. I think there is still one at Mount Road.

    Maybe others can add more…

  12. Maruthu Pandian (unregistered) on August 4th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    what about the brand, Madras?

  13. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 1:00 am

    Sangu mark kerchiefs and lungies
    Binny school uniform
    Madurai Muniyandi Vilas
    Irani Tea, Samosas and Salt Biscuits – One shop I still find in Ritchie Street
    Solidaire and Dyanora TV

  14. Prabhu (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 3:26 am

    Safire theatre ?

  15. Venkatakrishnan (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    entyce? some old theatres like paragon, sun etc..

  16. prakash (unregistered) on August 5th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    adding some more

    GK Vale
    Rita Icecream
    P.ORR & Sons
    Pioneer Sports Shop
    Shanti Vihar
    Rayar Mess in Kutcheri road
    Suguna Vilas Sabha
    Radha Silks Emporium (RASI)
    neo rangavilas ( Parry’s corner)
    Victory House (VGP)
    Irani Snack bar
    Murray & Co
    Lawrence & Mayo
    Doveton Cafe
    EID Parry
    Kumar Shirts
    AV Ramanan’s Musiano
    TI Cycles
    Connemara Hotel
    Saraswathi Stores ( music shop owned by AVM)
    Ambuli Salon (Alwarpet)
    Ratna Cafe
    Jammi’s Liver Cure
    Madura Travels
    Syed Bawhker

  17. planemad (unregistered) on August 6th, 2006 @ 1:10 am

    Ratna stores, theyre prolly billionaires by now.

  18. aravind (unregistered) on August 6th, 2006 @ 1:52 am

    itz in da topic…. MADRAS IS NO LONGER CALLED MADRAS..:| even though chennai is da propa tamil name for da place i still find myself referring it to as Madras…i lik it da way it used to b….

  19. guruprasad (unregistered) on August 6th, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

    Rita ice cream : someone has no clue what it is? cant believe it…the roadside icecream vandi of yesteryears, calling “ice, ice paal ice, rita ice” and the famous wooden vandi.
    Vaitha hotel : landmark near Sri parthasarathy swamy koil
    Murali Cafe : where modern day Sangeetha hotel stands today in Triplicane. Even today the bus stop is called Murali Cafe Stop
    Seerani arangam : cant forget all those “ezhupputhal pothukootangal” and the speeches by several politicians
    Velvette shampoo: the sachet revolution, i dont see it any more
    Alankar theater: For english films, I used to frequent this theater; and also they used to screen kannada movies on sunday morning show.

    Ratna Cafe is still going great guns. Triplicane Ratna Cafe is bustling, and now they have had opend a branch in Velachery. They have plans to expand like a chain.
    RASI is doing fine too.

  20. venkatakrishnan (unregistered) on August 7th, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    Guru, Vaitha hotel is still in a new building at the same place and same taste..but i think those “vazha ilais” are replaced by “polythene papers”…

  21. Emptymind (unregistered) on August 8th, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

    Very very good post. Nice to read.
    burama bazar mattum vittuteengale :( anyways… good start.

  22. phantom363 (unregistered) on August 11th, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

    nobody remembers moore market? the place to go for any thing and everything. those bookstores were gems. the booksellers so knowledgeable. too bad. i still miss moore market

  23. malai (unregistered) on August 19th, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    and the Chinnamalai Stopping in Saidapet..
    All the outstation buses used to stand there..when the bus stand was in Parrys..

    Now its been shifted to Koyambedu..and the Chinnamalai Stopping lost its fame.

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