Be it a food truck or a chain of restaurant, food start-ups are emerging out from everywhere. Many may think food start-ups are a new trend but they don’t know that it’s a concept used way earlier from the 80’s. Food can never go out of fashion, even in 80’s craving for fast food was concordant.
Even though the time frame changes people would always be like “Ghar ki murgi daal barabar– Self-possessions are always undermined and other’s possessions seem better”
People loved fast food back then and this love shimmered her, Patricia Narayan, proud owner of FICCI Women Entrepreneur Award (2010).
Patricia Narayan: Epitome of Success:
Director of Sandeepha chain of hotels ( named after her late daughter), Patricia Narayan is a true inspiration. An accidental entrepreneur, fame approached her after she won FICCI [Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry] Women Entrepreneur Award (2010). She didn’t have a degree, she didn’t go to a business school yet she built an empire embarking with the scraps. Victimised by domestic Violence, she didn’t give up, rather the fire within her ember-ed. 21st June 1982, she started her business by earning 50 paise, with struggle and sweat, now she owns 14 outlets across Chennai acquiring 2 Lakhs per day.
Born in a Christian family, Patricia’s father worked in posts and telegraphs and her mother in the telephonic department. A family of 5, she being the eldest of all the siblings loved cooking.
“I made my first attempt at cooking at the age of eight or nine. It was a passion”, she told in an interview.
While studying in Queen Mary’s college in Chennai, Patricia fell in love with a Brahmin guy who was 13 years older than him. She befriended him while wandering around a restaurant, to catch glimpse of the open kitchen. “Even then, it was my fascination with food that took me there.” She laughed. They got married stealthily.
Bed of roses turned to thorns:
With sudden revelation of their marriage, their families abandoned them and Patricia moved into a rented house in Anna Nagar with her husband only to give the game away that life was not a walk to remember. Patricia soon found out that her husband was heavily into alcohol and drugs. Not even earning a penny, she was devastated when she got pregnant with her abusive husband.
With no money and roof, two kids and a vituperative husband her stark story of survival began. Her parents still angry gave a place to live. But money was still an issue of concern. The time was thrusting her for some action.
“I reached the crossroads where I had to choose between living and dying, I chose to live”, she exclaimed.
With no one beside her, she decided to combat her problems alone.
Her love for cooking was immense, but coming from a govt background she never pursued her passion.
During her survival days, money was need of hour. She decided to mingle her passion with food.
She borrowed a couple of hundred rupees from her mother and started making squashes, jams, and pickles at home. Selling the homemade items in her mother office, she earned enough money to start off her venture. Valuing every coin, she invested everything in order to expand her business.
An opportunity knocked her dilapidated door when her father’s friend offered her a kiosk. She didn’t know what was coming but she was ready to face any obstacle. An innovative idea struck her, there used to be a lot of crowd at Marina beach so she decided to put the mobile cart at Anna Square on that particular beach but instead of selling only tea and cigarettes (like people used to sell at that time) she decided to hawk cutlets, samosa, bajji, fresh juice, coffee and tea.
She employed two handicapped children, training them to make coffee and to do basic chores. But things didn’t turn out the way she wanted and she landed up selling only one cup of coffee and that was for fifty paise! But she didn’t yield and next day, she sold snacks worth Rs. 600-700! As she started making more money, she also included ice creams, sandwiches, French fries and juices too. She was like a firework, bursting with flying colours.
Road to Success:
Slum clearance board:
Seeing the emerging Marina beach business of Patricia, Chairman of the Slum Clearance Board gave her the offer to run the canteen at their office. With better kitchen and setup, she could not refuse the offer and started catering turning it into a huge success. Simultaneously she ran her kiosk and handled the slum clearance board mess. Earning a decent amount of 20K per month her business boost up pretty well.
Bank of Madurai canteen
Sh was so good with her catering business that she got another offer to run the Bank of Madurai canteen. There she served roughly 300 people daily. Getting catering contract for Bank of Madurai she stopped running the canteen at the Slum Clearance Board
National Port Management training school
Later Patricia met the administrative officer of ‘National Port Management training school’ run by the Central government notifying him about her catering business. In no time she got the offer to serve three meals to about 700 students, daily and she also got her own quarters to stay by them. And the best thing was she made her emphasis from day one.
Her first weekly payment was Rs. 80,000 which so
on went on to become Rs 1 Lakh/week, an amount, far more elevated than earlier.
By then she exactly knew how to manage things, run things, and execute things effectively.
She went on to continue this till 1998!
Sandeepha chain of restaurants:
When everything was going on the right path, a tragedy happened. Patricia lost her newlywed daughter- Pratibha Sandra and her son-in-law in a road accident. The news shattered Patricia forcing her to withdraw from everything. That is when her son decided to take responsibility and started their first restaurant in the loving memory of her daughter ‘Sandeepha’ in 2006.
Although, it did take some time for her to come out of the shock, but with time she did come back and started helping her son in the business. Since then she is looking forward and has never looked back.
Patricia Narayan says,” A woman of substance or woman achiever is a woman of power” A woman is a positive influence, so use your voice and believe in yourself.
Entrepreneurship cannot scale the success or the fire within us. Don’t quench that fire in your belly. Embrace your individuality and build what you dream.
Here is a wonderful speech by Patricia Narayan, watch it below: