After decades spent attending to the demands of home and hearth, 44-year-old Anitha Sivakumar decided to take out time and energy for herself.
The outcome of this decision is there for everyone to see: Parambriym, a southern dining restaurant with two outlets, and more on the way. In 2009, she stopped being a fulltime homemaker and started a small catering business. She ran this modest enterprise from home for a year, before finding the confidence to take up bigger challenges. As she tried to get a hold on the catering business, she committed a few gaffes.
“I started off by printing pamphlets to distribute across neighbourhood. The funny part is that the first set of pamphlets was printed without a contact number,” says Anitha, but she showed herself to be quick on the uptake and never repeated her mistakes.
“After a year of working from home, I went in for a bigger kitchen. The one at my house was not too small to meet the growing demand. I moved to a commercial kitchen on Sterling Road, simultaneously opening another on Dr. Guruswamy Road, where I sold parcelled food,” says Anitha. But six months later, she ound herself moving into a bigger space.
In 2011, she had opened the first branch of Parambriym at Ispahani Centre in Nungambakkam. “I was clear that my restaurant would serve fresh food, whose recipes had been handed down generations in my family. That is why I named the restaurant Parambriyan, which means tradition,” says Anitha, who roped in professionals from the food industry.
In the early days, Anitha went the extra mile, often performing menial tasks. “I would go to Kasimedu market to buy fish and try every recipe several times till I got it right. All these years, I have maintained the practice of starting my day by going to the main kitchen in Sterling Road, checking the stock and overseeing the preparations before they are transported to both the restaurants, where they are finally cooked,” says Anitha.
Within two years, she opened her second outlet in Anna Nagar and is now looking for suitable locations to set up a few more. She says she could not have done this without her family. My mother is my inspiration. She also gives me creative inputs. My husband has protected me from the hard knocks of life, providing for me financially and emotionally. Whenever doubts assailed, he was there to prod me on,” says Anitha.
Ask Anitha about the one idea that she thinks made all the difference, and she is more likely to say this: It’s never too late to act on a great idea.
(A column about entities that have outgrown neighbourhoods)