Mukesh Khubchandani, a Chennai businessman, has replicated the budget canteen that was run by S. Ramu, fondly called Ramu Thatha, in Madurai, and is selling meals for ₹10.
Ramu Thatha, who passed away a few months ago, ran the budget hotel along with his wife R. Pooranathammal near the Anna bus stand in the temple city. “The day I read about the death of Madurai’s Ramu Thatha (meaning grandfather), who served meals for ₹10, I was impressed by his life journey. That is when I thought when a poor man can do this for several decades, why not me,” said Mr. Khubchandani, who is also president of the All India Electronics Association, Chennai.
In the next 30 days, he and his team did the groundwork and set up a small kitchen (345 sq ft) on Ritchie Street. The operations started in August. “The idea behind collecting ₹10 is to make the buyer realise that it is not free. This will also ensure that he does not waste food,” Mr. Khubchandani said.
The meal parcel contains rice, sambhar, rasam, buttermilk and vegetables (all packed separately).
During the initial days, 100 meals a day were sold. As word spread, more people from nearby places started coming in. Currently, over 300 meals are being sold every day, and the number is increasing. Looking at the demand, Mr. Khubchandani has deployed two persons to be in charge of the kitchen and four others to help in the packaging. He is now planning to set up a restaurant and is scouting for a location. “I’m looking for a space where there are more labourers who would walk in. At the restaurant I will be giving the meals for ₹30 (with the best ambience), and takeaways will be priced at ₹10,” he said. This restaurant will be operational within the next six months.