In Mumbai, he landed his first job in a canteen “I washed dishes in the canteen of Hindustan Organic Chemicals,” recalls the 54-year-old Banan. His first promotion came within three months of joining the canteen where he was moved up to waiting on tables. Eight years later, Banan quit as night manager to move to the capital, where he started a canteen of his own at Central Electronics in Ghaziabad.
- Established in 1986
- Initial investment Rs 3,250/week as rent
- Current revenue Rs 70 crore
- Number of outlets 67
- Bet you didn’t know Majority of Sagar Ratna’s staff are either from Tamil Nadu or Mangalore
The chain makes an impressive 15-20% profit. And all this success has been showcased to the world by a man who was born in a little village called Karkala, 30 km from Udupi. One of seven children, Banan never saw himself living a life in the village. And his ascent to the high flying life of a restaurateur started when Banan failed his school exams, stole some money from his father and ran away to find a life in Mumbai.
Jayaram Banan, founder of south Indian restaurant chains Sagar Ratna and Swagath, is starting yet another restaurant chain, this time offering north Indian vegetarian cuisine for consumers who don’t eat onion and garlic–mainly the Jain and Marwari communities.
Banan, who is a minority shareholder in Sagar Ratna Restaurants after having sold the business to private equity fund Indian Equity Partners in August last for Rs 180 crore, told ET that the new chain is being named Shraman.
The first restaurant is coming up in Delhi next week. Banan is also venturing into packaged snacks, pickles and ready-to-eat meals.
Packaged snacks, under JRB brand, will compete with Frito-Lay’s and Haldiram’s. “We already have the facilities for the same and we only need to diversify into packaged foods through backward integration,” he said.
Banan, chairman and promoter of the Swagath chain that specialises in non-vegetarian south Indian seafood and 4-star hotel Ocean Pearl in Mangalore, said his son, Roshan Banan, is looking after this part of the business. The ready-to-eat meals will be launched under the Swagath brand. Banan said the group is targeting revenues of close to Rs 200 crore by 2012-13, up from Rs 120 crore last fiscal.
Banan continues to be the chairman of Sagar Ratna and there is some speculation that he is having differences with new owners Indian Equity Partners. This was denied by both Banan and IEP operating partner Arvind Nair. The funds are being used to facilitate expansion of the chain, which specialises in vegetarian south Indian cuisine.
The 26-year-old Sagar Ratna chain, which specialises in vegetarian south Indian cuisine, plans to open 50 outlets over the next one year through a combination of franchise and company-owned stores. Currently, it has 28 branches and 42 franchisee outlets, mostly in North India.
Swagath has 11 restaurants and plans to open four more this year. The eating out industry has so far been insulated by the economic slowdown.
A white paper on the Indian restaurant Industry by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) along with retail consultancy Technopak says that the organised restaurant industry is expected to grow to Rs 28, 000 crore by 2015, fuelled by the entry of newer players and expansion of existing ones.
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