1950s… Nagasamy Naidu, an accountant by profession in the town of Dindigul, was enjoying his wife’s biriyani. The mouth-watering creation of seeraga samba rice and meat, lovingly cooked with quality spices and carefully chosen ingredients, took him to an elevated level of satisfaction. And he decided to make this delicious biriyani available to others in Dindigul…
In 1957, Nagasamy Naidu, in his signature white turban, started Anandha Vilas Biriyani Hotel in Dindigul. Soon, the outlet became as well-known as its white turbaned owner, dishing up tasty biriyani to appreciating Dindigul residents and visitors. So much so, that over time, Anandha Vilas Biriyani hotel came to be known as Thalappakatti Biriyani.
From 1957 to 2009, Dindigul Thalappakatti Biriyani operated from the single outlet in Dindigul. In the 1990s, the family experimented with an outlet in Coimbatore for a short period. They also tried an outlet in Bangalore in the 1990s, but it didn’t do very well. So the one outlet in Dindigul it was.
Till 2008. Till Nagasamy Dhanapalan, Nagasamy Naidu’s grandson who was working as a front office receptionist in the UK, was forced to return to India to tend to his ailing father. Till the entrepreneurial bug made the grandson Nagasamy think big, and take over the business.
But it was not a bed of roses for Nagasamy. When he first mooted the idea of starting an outlet in Chennai, he faced nothing but resistance.
The major apprehension was that the rural, unique flavour of their biriyani might not appeal to urban Chennai tastes, which perhaps were accustomed to the Lucknawi, Hyderabadi or Kolkata biriyanis made from Basmati rice.
There was also a hesitation to upset the status quo, the fear of losing money invested, and the fact that Nagasamy really was young and had no experience or knowledge of how to scale up in the restaurant space.
Nagasamy, however, convinced his father to make an initial investment, and finally, in 2009, Dindigul Thalappakatti biriyani stepped out of Dindigul, and started its first experimental branch in Batlagundu. Gaining ground and confidence, the entrepreneur then decided to test urban waters, and started a branch in Anna Nagar, an upmarket locality of Chennai.
Nagasamy’s vision was big. He wanted for his grandfather’s biriyani the international fame and acclaim of KFC. And this stemmed from two significant aspects: first, his confidence in the product. And second, his keen sensitivity to customer feedback and needs.
And he had the humility to learn from people who had experience. He learned about scaling up from veterans like Saravana Bhavan and Adyar Ananda Bhavan.
Nagasamy also had the wisdom to build a solid trusted team to help him achieve his vision. He enlisted paternal uncles to join the business. He also employed educated people – he believed his emloyees should have more knowledge than he did.
Just as the face of Colonel Sanders, the creator of KFC, is associated with brand KFC, the white turbaned face of the founder of Anandha Vilas is now the brand logo of Dindigul Thalappakatti biriyani. And rightly so. He was the face behind the famous biriyani.
The rest, to use a cliché, is history.
Dindigul Thalappakatti Biriyani has gone from two to 40 branches in eight years. They have branches in Paris, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and California, and may soon open outlets in Sydney, Abu Dhabi and Muscat. In India, the plan is to expand to tier-2 and tier-3 cities in Tamil Nadu and then spread to other cities.
Expansion plans continue for India as well as international markets.
From a little hut in 1957 in Dindigul, to an international chain of family friendly casual dining restaurants – Mr Nagasamy Naidu, your wife’s biriyani is now world famous, and providing biriyani bliss to millions of food lovers the world over…