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Continuing to serve, in the ‘bachelor’s paradise’

Kasivinayaga Mess has been attracting people across generations since its inception. Photo: M. Srinath  

At 75, Chennai resident S.V. Shanmugham is half-a-century older than T. Ramarajan, a native of Ginjee in Villupuram district. But the one thing common among them is their affinity with Kasivinayaga Mess, an iconic ‘meals-only’ eatery in Triplicane.

While Mr. Shanmugham has been a regular for over 20 years, Mr. Ramarajan has been having most of his lunches and dinners here for the past eight years

Now in its 42nd year, the mess has been attracting people across generations since its inception. “I was the only mess supervisor with an SSLC at the students’ hostel of Presidency College. I was made mess in-charge after a protest over the menu in 1968,” says proprietor K. Vasudevan, speaking on the beginnings of his journey.



Dates in History
 
1973

Kasivinayaga Mess was started by K. Vasudevan on Akbar Sahib Street, Triplicane, beside a cattle shed


1985

A full-fledged building was constructed on land purchased from a former hotelier

Did you know !
 

When the mess was started, the cost of a full meal was just Rs. 1 and 35 paise. An Old marble topped table and other wooden furniture remain till this day, and a Rallis ceiling fan has been working non-stop since the mess'inception



“My first priority was to revamp the existing menu based on students’ preferences. I served them biriyani and fruits, which they loved,” recalls this native from Thuraiyur in Tiruchirapalli district.

“After five years, a friend encouraged me to start a restaurant on my own. I did not want to venture in too deep, and started the modest mess in November 1973,” he says.

He named the mess after the Kasivinayagar shrine in Avinashi, Coimbatore, where he spent some time.

Triplicane at that time was known as the bachelor’s paradise of Chennai, with young men hailing from all over Tamil Nadu living in the mansions there. The mess was an instant hit and developed a loyal client base that appreciated the home-cooked taste of the meals.

Mr. Vasudevan began by visiting the market at Kothawal Chavadi by bus, and hand picked vegetables. Now he travels in a van to Koyambedu. The food is still prepared in woodstoves.

No artificial substances are used and a clever mix of vegetables is used to prepare the sambar, koottu and poriyal, ensuring a blend of tastes. The mess has a seating arrangement to be followed based on the tokens issued.

“It is like eating at our parents’ home. We do not even have to ask for a second serving of vegetables,” says Thana Ramachandran of Madurai. R. Manikandan of Theni, another customer, hails the pineapple rasam, avial and puthina thuvayal as having an unmatched taste.

Mr. Vasudevan, now 65 years old, says he will continue to serve food to people with the same care and affection as when he first started out.


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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 6:10:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/madras375/continuing-to-serve-in-the-bachelors-paradise/article6305531.ece

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