On Campus

Friendly neighbourhood munching place

WRIDDHAAYAN BHATTACHARYYA | Updated on April 21, 2013

HUNGRY KYA?... Kartik the amazing sandwich maker.

Variety choice!

Right next to Narada Gana Sabha in Alwarpet, Chennai, is a small shop that smells of corn and mayonnaise; a raw rendition of an Ilaiyaraja composition sung by S.P. Balasubramaniam wafts through the air. Four or five people stand around waiting for their order.

Behind the counter inside the shop, Kartik “sandwich-maker” uses one hand to stir the corn soaked in butter while the other hand feeds slices of bread into the electric toaster. “I sell around 300 sandwiches per day on an average,” he said, pausing mid-verse of the Ilaiyaraja song

The Royal Sandwich Shop opened 10 years ago as a bread-omelette joint; now it has more than 40 varieties of sandwiches, with prices ranging from Rs15 to Rs 40.

The owner, Mohammad Ali, is a small-time businessman who comes now and then to check on the shop, but it is Kartik who holds fort. He experiments with cheese, chocolate, vegetables, mayonnaise and anything he finds good enough to be minced and spread between slices of bread.

His daily earnings fluctuate roughly between Rs 6000 and Rs 7000. His customers are mostly students and office-goers. “Students from the Vivekananda and Stella Maris frequently come here,” he says.

Kartik spends hours listening to Ilaiyaraja and S.P. Balasubramunium songs and whistles or hums them while working. The patrons admire him for his sense of humour and friendly nature.

His regular customer and now a friend, Ram, who works in Renault Nissan Automotive, says, “The first time I came here, I told him to get me something immediately as I was very hungry. He replied that raw bread pieces were the only things available if it has to be immediate!”

Kathar, a marketer and one of Kartik’s old admirers, says, “ I come here to unwind, grab a bite and chat with Kartik. I’ve been coming here since the time I was in the sixth standard when the price of bread omelette was Rs 6.”

Kartik owes a lot to the location of the shop on busy TTK Road, and close to many offices.

Kartik’s two brothers are employed in branches of Royal Sandwich Shop. And although Kartik does not own the shop, he has a free hand in managing the business. A native of Cuddalore, Kartik says he picked up the “trick” of making sandwiches. He won’t say from where!Capsicum Cheese Toast, Chutney Cheese Toast, Chocolate Cheese Toast, Corn Cheese Toast, Bread Omelette Mushroom Cheese Toast and an exclusive section of Mayo sandwiches are some of his popular sandwiches – and with the sale of all this and more, his earnings are only going up.

(Wriddhaayan is a student of Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.)

Published on April 21, 2013

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