Tucked away into a line of shops at Gangamma circle, Jalahalli, the Iyengar Bakery (L.J. Iyengar’s) stands out with its neatly stacked biscuits, cakes, savouries and buns. The smell of baking bread wafts through from time to time and when the bread is done baking, the cookies beckon.
“We sell breads, buns, biscuits, rusks and cakes. But our rusks, biscuits and bread are the trump cards,” says Madhu Iyengar. The bakery sells freshly baked cakes with buttercream as well as fresh cream and plum cakes during Christmas and New Year. It is the only time in the year when their cakes are not eggless. Their largest clientele according to Madhu are families.
“I think the secret of success lies in the way we have successfully blended traditional recipes with technology,” he explains.
Madhu is a third generation baker in his family. “My father set-up this bakery in 1977 after quitting the army. And I took over the bakery three years ago from him,” recalls Madhu, who was working with a food-processing giant until then. It was Madhu who brought in “technology” into the business, by importing equipment from Italy.
Madhu now manages the store with his parents, who live with him in a house above the bakery. All the baking is done in a kitchen behind the store.
“We start every morning at 7.30 a.m. and close only at 9.45 p.m. Throughout the day, all we do is bake and sell. But it is easy for us to manage the store since we live right upstairs.”
Madhu’s commitment to baking is unshakable. What he loves about it, he says, is experimentation which, he believes, is what will help him improve.
“It is a passion that runs in blood. For the past three years, I was only dreaming of consolidating this franchise. Since that is now done, I want to open another five franchises.”
He may be one of the few visionary bakers left in the city, as he observes that Iyengar bakeries all over South India are shutting shop. “It’s because many youngsters whose families own the bakeries are increasingly taking up jobs in the software industry. They don’t want to take the risk and maybe I think, they don’t want to work hard,” he explains ruefully.
He is hopeful that the situation will change.