Ratna Cafe To Expand Outside Tamil Nadu

Vishal SS (cbedit@imaws.org)

We know that idli, dosa, Pongal, vada, sambar, and chutney are very common dishes that are served in south Indian Hotels. But there is a difference at Ratna Cafe. They give more importance to the sambar rather than other dishes. The staff carries the sambar in mini-buckets which are all ready to serve to the customers. The sambar is poured fully into the plate up to the fill. The sambar here at Ratna Cafe that is served is unlimited and is chargeable while idli is served free.

Up to 2002, there was only one branch of Ratna Cafe, that is at the Triplicane. In 2005 first outlet was opened at T.Nagar, Venkat Narayan road that is the first branch out of Triplicane, and immediately another branch at Velachery, and in 2007 another branch opened at East Coast road. “Ratna Cafe jumped into the IT corridor for a corporate conversion and we started commercializing. We were doing well” . Said Mr. Rajendra Gupta, one of the Directors of Ratna Cafe Hotels.

Growth and Commercial Changes
Later Ratna Cafe opened a branch at Venkata Narayana road at Tnagar, “I learned what is the demand for Ratna Cafe. There was a massive rush from day one and it was a very small outlet. There were 54-58 seats on the ground floor and 70 seats on the 1st floor. People started asking ‘why have we started a branch at such a small place’?. People from Anna Nagar started asking ‘why do you want to give preference to Tnagar’?. You should open a branch at Anna Nagar!”. added Rajendra Gupta.

Unique Sambar
“The sambar served at Ratna Cafe is a unique thing that no one can give it in India. That is the secret of the sambar and it is our signature dish. Sambar here they want with whatever they get. It is not like they need it for Idli, they like to eat with poori, dosa, and porotta. If suppose we don’t give it with porotta the customer says we have come a long way mainly for your sambar”. says, Rajendra Gupta.

Recently when I was sitting at the Adyar branch, I saw an old person around 60 years of age who was in the mess suddenly started to drink sambar just like drinking tea in a saucer. That is the secret that we have. But it is not only about the sambar, it is about the unique experience and trust which the customers have kept in us.

“Four years back I happened to meet a lady who came to the Triplicane branch. She said she came with her grandfather who has been a regular customer to Ratna Cafe. So that is the trust the customers keep in us even after so many years and generations.”

Covid – 19 Pandemic
People are still very eager and crazy to have their food directly at the cafe rather than taking a parcel. But still, as we wanted to make sure that all our customers are safe and to follow all covid-19 norms and protocols, we are following only 50 percent of occupancy at one time which was implemented by the government. “Even this was a learning for us as we get time to restructure the idea and other production plans, and also develop the area of hygiene and service standards within the restaurant”.

Expansion Plans
“We would have launched our first set of branches outside the state of Tamil Nadu, but when the pandemic picture came inside, we had to put that on hold. We are actively looking for expansion outside Chennai and Tamil Nadu because there is a lot of demand. Although my father wanted to tell the story of Ratna cafe to the people out of Tamil Nadu. Further, we are expecting this idea to be initiated by the next year 2022 if the situations are all under control”. Said Mr. Lokesh Gupta CEO at Ratna Cafe.

Fortunately or Unfortunately, Ratna Cafe has never felt the need to market. It has not marketed the branch in newspaper publications, online or with the latest trends with bloggers with the maximum followers also we have not collaborated. When we opened branches at Adyar, Velachery, and Tnagar, there was so much pressure from the print media side for publishing the launch news. But we said “please don’t write or publish anything about our outlet. Our customers never had to rely on the advertisements to come to Ratna Cafe. They know what Ratna Cafe is and what pulls them to come here. There is a sort of attachment that Chennai have with Ratna Cafe over the last 73 years. They have the trust and thankfully we have not needed to advertise anyway”. Added Lokesh Gupta

Social Media
Our presence is there on social media on Instagram, Facebook recently, because we wanted to get connected to the existing and new customers to know what is happening and inform them about the updates and we have never opted for paid advertisements.

There was a situation where the current ruling party of Tamil Nadu said that there won’t be any lockdown. But for the safety of the public, it was issued, because public safety is more important. “But there isn’t any possibility of any third-wave like the scale as of the first and second wave, because vaccination drives have been happening in full swing, it is much more like a safer side now. It will be a much more controlled situation and of course, we have to protect our customers and staff”. added Lokesh Gupta.

ADVT: Best wishes from Malligha. From the house of M.A.C (www.asafoetida.in).


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