For many the words ‘trouser kadai’ would conjure up the image of a garment showroom. But most people in Mandaveli, especially from Ramakrishna Mutt Road, know it as a 36-year-old eatery.

Sixty-nine-year-old cook R. Rajendran has run the small eatery, originally christened Arunagiri Vilas, from his house on R.K. Mutt Road since 1977.

“The name stuck as I cooked and served in the hotel in my trousers (shorts) right from the time I opened my business here,” laughs the elderly man seated on one of the old benches in his eatery and clad in dark green shorts.

Business is always hectic during mealtimes at Rajendran’s eatery but The Hindu caught up with him during a respite late in the afternoon.

The story behind the setting-up of the eatery starts on a sad note. “My ten-year-old daughter, Yamuna was suffering from psychiatric illness. My family members and I relocated to Madras from Tiruchi for her treatment. I rented this place and set up the eatery to meet her medical expenses and for easy access to her doctor,” Rajendran reminisced.

Yamuna passed away in 1979 but Rajendran, his wife and three sons stayed on in the city.

Rajendran serves over 80 meals daily at his eatery which opens for breakfast at 7.30 a.m. and downs shutters at 12.30 a.m. after dinner.

“I have been dining here for over 30 years now and the fare has always tasted like home food. Rajendran endeared himself to his customers, and therefore people started referring to him as ‘trouser mama’. Soon the hotel started to be referred as trouser kadai,” said Mohammed Ali of Pillaikovil Thottam, Mandaveli.

The cook claims, he and his three staff members grind the masalas instead of using packaged products. The cooking is done using only firewood.

The eatery doesn’t sport a signboard but only a banner declaring ‘meals ready.’ Perhaps it doesn’t need one after all.

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