The bakery that made cake for Queen Elizabeth in 1961 faces closure

Yet another landmark on the arterial Anna Salai in Chennai is facing the axe. Bosotto Bros, the much sought-after bakers since the 19 century, has been asked to vacate the premises by the owners of the building.

“The owner wants to demolish the building and plans to construct a commercial complex. I don't want to be a stumbling block to their expansion plans. All I want them to do is allot some space for the showroom as I am prepared to relocate the manufacturing unit elsewhere,” said K. Rajkumar, the third-generation owner of the Bosotto Bros.

Mr. Rajkumar said his showroom and manufacturing unit now occupied a total of 2,700 sq ft and expressed his willingness for a compromise so that he could retain his business in the age-old premises. The owners of the building moved the Small Causes Court and got a ruling in their favour, following which Mr. Rajkumar has filed an appeal in the same court.

The Bosotto Bros has its genesis in the Hotel D' Angelis which used to function from the building that now houses Bata on Anna Salai. Subsequently, Italian confectioner Bosotto bought it and renamed it Hotel Bosotto Brothers.

In 1928, the Governor of Madras appointed Bosotto Bros as the official caterers and the certificate issued by the Governor's office still adorns the bakery.

Mr. Rajkumar's grandfather B. Muslapa Chowdhry, who owned Champion Dairy on Wallajah Road, was the supplier of dairy products such as milk, butter and cream to the hotel. Muslapa Chowdhry enjoyed the goodwill of Bosotto and when the Italian decided to returned to his country, he sold it to Muslapa Chowdhry for Rs. 15,000 in 1950. The amount was paid in two instalments.

Later, Muslapa Chowdhry bought a piece of land and constructed the building which now houses the Bosotto Bros bakery. At one time, he also ran a restaurant on the first floor, which was the favourite haunt of lyricist Kannadasan. He is said to have penned some of his best songs in the building.

“The then Chief Minister K. Kamaraj was quite close to our family and we used to supply bread to him on a regular basis. It was this connection that led to Kamaraj asking us to bake a cake for Prince Andrew's first birthday on February 19, 1961. Queen Elizabeth was visiting Madras at the time,” said Mr. Rajkumar. Kamaraj had called M. Subramaniam, Rajkumar's uncle, who was then in charge of the bakery, and asked him to prepare the birthday cake.

The function was held at Rajaji Hall. A black and white picture of Queen Elizabeth cutting the cake is one of the pictures adorning the bakery.

Muslapa Chowdhry sold the property to a diamond merchant a few years after its construction in 1954. Since then it changed hands many times. Unlike several well-known business houses that established more branches, Bosotto Bros failed to branch out, save for a second bakery that was opened by Rajkumar's father M. Krishnan on Nungambakkam High Road in 1983.

Rajkumar said the business came down substantially after Anna Salai became a four-lane stretch and parking was prohibited. “I have business in the evening and depend mostly on bulk orders from IT companies and the corporate sector. I hope business picks up once metro rail begins functioning,” he said.

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