A meal for Rs. 10? Unbelievable, but true

At lunchtime, the environs of Shreeramapete in the heart of Sullia town are abuzz with the voice of students; not because they have some outdoor activity, but because they are going to or coming back from Hotel Ramprasad.

Popularly known as ‘Saralaya Hotel’, carrying the name of its owner Sundara Saralaya, this not-so-posh seven-decade-old hotel is in the memory of thousands of people just for one reason — the noon meals served at affordable rates. Those studying in the town, a Malnad region, don’t really have the option of going home for lunch and Hotel Ramprasad was their saviour.

Even before the governments had thought of the midday meal scheme, Venkataramana Saralaya, father of Mr. Sundara Saralaya, had been offering four meals for Re. 1 back in 1938. Hailing from Panathady village in Kanhangad taluk of Kasaragod district in Kerala, the Saralayas relocated to Sullia in 1938 and started the eatery in a thatched-roof hut.

When Mr. Sundara Saralaya took over the management of the hotel about 46 years ago, the service continued. But the price increased, from four meals for a rupee to three, two, one meal, and then finally, one meal for Rs. 5. Till about two years ago, Mr. Saralaya was providing meals at Rs. 5. And the meal does not just comprise rice and sambar for Rs. 10; it includes rice, rasam, curry and buttermilk.

Asked the reason for the low cost, Mr. Saralaya said he was merely following in his father’s footsteps. “Getting a meal is still difficult for many, particularly students, and hence I have continued the tradition,” he told The Hindu. Hotel Ramprasad serves not less than 200 meals every day, including over 100 to students.

Asked how he runs the show, Mr. Saralaya said he charges normal rates for meals taken through parcel (Rs. 40). Also, other food items in his hotel are priced on a par with the prevailing market price. The catering activity too brings in some income.

Now his son, Raghavendra Saralaya, is in the process of taking over the reins of the hotel. Another son is running some other business, while his only daughter is married and lives in Karkala. “The tradition will continue and the god has not betrayed us,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 14, 2021 11:09:37 AM |

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