Restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan plans hotel, shopping mall foray

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Hotel Saravana Bhavan's new outlet at Mylapore in Chennai. M. Karunakaran
Hotel Saravana Bhavan's new outlet at Mylapore in Chennai. M. Karunakaran

R. Ravikumar
Vinay Kamath

Chennai, Jan. 10

LEVERAGING its brand, the 25-year-old restaurant chain Saravana Bhavan, known for its quick-service vegetarian food, plans its first-ever star category hotel and a multiplex-cum-food and shopping mall in Chennai.

According to Mr R. Saravanan, Managing Partner and Chief Executive, the hotel is all set to come up in Vadapalani, near the city's film district of Kodambakkam, where the chain at present runs one of its oldest restaurants in an18-ground plot (1 ground = 2,400 sq. ft). The proposed multiplex-cum-mall is to come up in Koyambedu, near the city's main mofussil bus stand and vegetable market, where the chain owns 11 acres of land.

Saravana Bhavan is planning to take up the Koyambedu project only after completing the hotel project, says Mr S.V. Ganapathy, Chief Commercial Executive.

The hotel is being designed by a Delhi-based architect, Mr Anil Singh, who has designed the chain's Delhi restaurants as well as its latest one in Mylapore in South Chennai.

Mr Saravanan says the new hotel will have 100-plus rooms with competitive tariffs. To make room for the hotel, the chain plans to shift its existing restaurant at Vadapalani, close to a well-known Murugan temple, to a 5-ground property nearby, which it acquired for the purpose. This new restaurant with large halls will cater primarily to the temple traffic. The Rs 40-crore investment for the hotel project will be funded through internal accruals and debt, he said. It will be completed within 18 months.

For the Koyambedu complex, Saravana Bhavan is planning to tie up with a multiplex operator. While the chain will set up the vegetarian restaurant in the proposed multiplex and the Vadapalani hotel, it is toying with the idea of inviting another restaurant brand to run a non-vegetarian outlet as the Saravana brand is strongly associated with vegetarian food.

The Chennai-based restaurant chain, marking its silver jubilee year, recently opened a branch at Mylapore "with all modern facilities". "We are planning to open two more restaurants in Chennai, and we are on the lookout for space in Thiruvanmiyur and Tambaram (suburbs of Chennai) for the purpose," says Mr Saravanan.

The chain at present has 42 branches. Of these, two are in Canada, one in Muscat, five in the UAE, three in the US, two each in Singapore, Malaysia and London.

It has three restaurants in Delhi. The one at Karol Bagh is the chain's biggest with a 500-seat capacity.

Apart from its foray into hotels, Saravana Bhavan plans to set up a sweets and savouries chain. It has set up its first outlet, as a pilot project in Anna Nagar, a posh residential suburb of Chennai.

As a first step towards corporatising the restaurant chain, a private limited company has been formed from the partnership firm it was earlier, said Mr Saravanan. Expansion of the chain will be in Chennai and Delhi for the moment, he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 11, 2006)
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