Unforgotten Brands – Sangeetha


Sangeetha aims to continue expanding with the younger generation’s involvement, ensuring a bright future for the chain of restaurants

Growing up in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, the Padmanabha Potti family faced financial difficulties. Padmanabha Potti ran a small Udupi restaurant, while his wife, R. Kasiammal, was a homemaker. Suresh and Rajagopal were the only boys among seven siblings.

In 1978, the family moved to Chennai, and Suresh, who was then in his pre-university course, decided to join the family business. They opened their first ‘Suprabatham’ restaurant in West Mambalam. Despite opening two outlets, they struggled to achieve success. Rajagopal, at 22, continued his studies to become a chartered accountant.

Suresh, having witnessed his father’s struggles in the food business, spent over two years travelling through remote locations in Tamil Nadu, immersing himself in understanding the food industry.

From 1981 to 1984, he worked in various restaurants, performing all kinds of jobs, from cooking to serving. He even slept in the staff quarters after long days of work. This hands-on experience gave him valuable insights into creating a unique selling proposition (USP) and understanding customer behaviour, working conditions, and food preparation, which were crucial in establishing a successful restaurant.

In 1985, Suresh gathered the courage to open his vegetarian restaurant on Armenian Street near the Madras High Court, catering to lawyers, shipping executives, and traders in the area. As a music lover and a fan of M.S. Subbulakshmi, he named the restaurant ‘Sangeetha’. Working 18-hour days and often sleeping in the restaurant, Suresh transformed it into a successful venture.

Rajagopal eventually joined his brother, dropping out of his CA course during the final exams. In 1990 they opened their second Sangeetha outlet in Mylapore, near the iconic Kapaleeswarar Temple. With a gruelling schedule from 7 am to midnight, Rajagopal, like Suresh, often stayed overnight in the dining hall. Together, they gradually scaled up operations.

Initially focused on authentic South Indian food, Sangeetha now serves various cuisines under one roof. The primary goal was consistently providing high-quality food and establishing a distinct brand. By 1998, they began expanding across Chennai and started branching out internationally by 2001.

Today, the Sangeetha chain of restaurants has over 60 outlets in locations including Chennai, Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the US, and London. They have about eight franchises where they hold stakes, and their 17th international restaurant is opening in Qatar. Starting with an annual turnover of Rs 3 lakh, they now achieve an annual turnover of Rs 300+ crores.

As Suresh and Rajagopal age gracefully, their younger generations, including their children and nieces and nephews, have stepped up to continue the family legacy. They have delegated the responsibility of managing the units to family members to maintain quality. The success of their business model is attributed to reasonable prices and loyal employees who have served for many years.

Recalling their childhood, Suresh and Rajagopal emphasize that their community in Udupi served free food to the underprivileged in temples. For them, the food business is as much about service as it is about making money.

Although based in Chennai, the brothers receive hourly reports from all their outlets, regardless of location. The staff at Sangeetha enjoy job security and welfare measures, contributing to low attrition rates. Positive feedback about employees, especially waiters, is shared throughout the company, fostering a supportive work environment.

Looking ahead, the Padmanabha Potti household aims to continue expanding with the younger generation’s involvement, ensuring a bright future for the Sangeetha chain of restaurants.



For consultation and advice - https://topmate.io/vejay_anand_s

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *