Imagine being an 18-year old married girl, though a marriage that has failed, and has two children to provide food for apart from trying to come out of the emotional trauma. The situation can easily trigger people with highest of life spirits towards embracing death. But Patricia Narayan, choosing life, exemplifies not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the bravest. Narayan has taught a lesson to all the women by winning FICCI Women Entrepreneur of the Year award. Here are excerpts from the interview:
I feel very proud. I don’t feel like if this is a male dominated world. My entire race is about food. Food is always related to women at home but commercially it never was. When I started the business it was a challenge for me as people never expect women to be on the commercial side of it. I come across people who told me that this is not a house wife job that perhaps inspired me to do it. I started catering business in 1978, now I am 58.
In 1978 I started making pickle, jam, squashes and selling them from home to friends, relatives and my mother’s office people. I started getting orders for that but couldn’t do that because I didn’t have commission on that. Then, I started running a kiosk at the Marina beach. My first sale was of 50 paisa cup of coffee, this was year 1982. At kiosk my food was received well and people started asking me to take small orders and this gave me a confidence of expanding and starting with catering. So I started institutional catering and catered to National Institute of Port Management amongst others. I later joined as director at Sangeetha in 1998 which is my son’s venture and left it in 2011. Today, I am running my own business and a successful chain of restaurants named Sandeepha Chain of Restaurants.
Food as passion
I didn’t come from a business family. After day one there was no turning back. My food was making noise and was being appreciated. People started asking me to take-up orders for 10 people etc. So that was the stepping stone. But, I never compromise my stall for anything.
On Restaurant biz
I was already on institutional catering and was well versed with it. There is a huge difference between institutional catering and restaurant business. In institutional you give food to 1000 people a day, but in a restaurant we have to do portion cooking. I don’t know how many customers would come. That was the different field I was always interested in.
Transcribed by: Pallavi Singhal