The tiny ‘Chembottil lane’ in Thrissur is not complete without the landmark ‘Hotel Bharath’ which is a second home for most of the natives and visitors to the city. Named after ‘Bharath’, the actual name of India, this hotel replicates most characters of the nation itself- love, affection, and equal treatment to everyone. One can easily witness guests from various walks of life trawling outside the hotel every afternoon. People from various beliefs, dialects, ethnicity, and socio-economic status enter the hotel only to taste the food. Started by a patriot K Balakrishna Menon in 1964, the restaurant came in the hands of M Sreekumar at his tender age. Sreekumar, who had shed his blood and sweat building the restaurant knows every nook-and-corner of the hotel and its operations. M Nandakumar, M Rajkumar, and M Vijayakumar his siblings support him for smooth functions of the restaurant. “The restaurant came to us in one of the toughest times. We feel this restaurant is a gift from our father and like us, we have second and third-generation loyal guests who trust us and it is our duty to maintain the name which we had built over these years”, Sreekumar kick-starts the interaction.
Unique Aspects of the outlet:
According to Sreekumar, a hotelier is never off-duty. “One has to dedicate his life to be successful in the hotel business. One who thinks of a hotel always remembers the front-end part- serving, lights, counter-sale, etc. However, an equal effort should, (at times even more) is needed in the back end. Thus, at Bharath, we give equal importance to every minute detail of our back end too- be it toilets, warehouse, waste management, employee welfare, recycling, cold-storage, procuring only FSSAI-certified food products, fresh vegetables, and more.” Bharath hotel believes that one has to change with time and had invested heavily in machines. “We had automated almost all our pre-preparation, preparation, and post-preparation works. With the increasing crowd and lack of available resources, hoteliers have to automate their functions”, he feels. While many of the pure-vegetarian outlets had always meant the Tamil-food as a plate meal, Bharath offers Kerala-styled meals.
Sreekumar recalls the changing trends in the way people consuming food. “When our father started, we had a very limited menu on our list. Only people who never had an alternative will visit the hotel- like officers, travellers or business owners. When time changed, when more colleges started coming in, we had many college-goers, professors, business travellers, government officers, started eating in our restaurant while travelling. Earlier, we had customers who had an affinity to a hotel or an eatery which is not present in this generation.”, says Sreekumar who further added that traditional Indian foods cannot be replaced. Asked about the entry on the influence of foods which are not native for Indians, he claims, “When Indian foods are liked by many outsiders, it is the vice-versa that we also get attracted by burger, pizza and shawarama. However, what we can consume on a day to day basis is what makes the difference”, he concluded quoting how many bigger brands are trying to ‘Indianize’ their burger or pizza to sell for Indian consumers. Some of the other trends he noticed are the changing lifestyle of people that reflects more guests in our hotel, despite being a South Indian restaurant, Bharath serves a wide range of North Indian cuisines. Despite not a staunch believer in self-marketing, Bharath hotel thrives only by the word of mouth in yesteryears which has transformed into online recommendations. “My quality is top-notch and we treat our employees with uttermost humanity and that is the reason I do not need any external marketing. As an individual, I had given my life to this entity and I firmly believe that being in the food business, anyone who enters our premises is our love for the customers should be as good as a mother’s love for her child”, he concluded.
Other than the regular day-to-day challenges, the biggest challenge Mr Sreekumar faced in his life was when the COVID pandemic has happened. “Even in my wildest dreams, I would have not imagined a situation where we will be asked to down our shutters for months together. While we had most of our kitchen brigade were from Odisha and Tamil Nadu region, we ensured their safety, security, and priority. We had arranged special transportation for our colleagues and ensured they reach their families on time”, he said.
Suggestions for family-run business:
Speaking on the family-run hotel businesses, he said that there is a need for a ‘blood-relation individual someone to take care of the daily operations. “We had many hoteliers who start big, expand big, but at one point of time, also bite the dust and become a fly-by-night business. In today’s business competition is so high that even minor negligence would cost your reputation badly. Thus, ensure that the hotel business is not an easy task. Your physical and mental presence and detailing in all aspect for customer satisfaction is most important”, he concluded.
ADVERTISEMENT- On behalf of Swad, we wish Hotel Bharath a fruitful and tremendous growth in future endeavors. May the ray of light shine brightly by a tremendous wave of happiness and affection for long.
Serving People all around the globe with (SWAD) quality products is indeed a great privilege and huge respect earned from people’s hearts. Which act as the catalyst for us in the research and development of pesticide-free and organic products into our portfolio. (SWAD FOOD PRODUCTS) Initially formulated during 2006 as a family business headed by Chairman Mr. Anil Kumar.
As the motto of SWAD states (AIR WATER & SWAD. The basics) Chairman, Mr. Anil gives an utmost priority to the very high quality of SWAD products to be served to the end customer. SWAD being the pioneer in developing the complete pesticide-free matta rice in its category with 20 and 50 % Bran a great value-added product towards a healthier life for the people of GOD’S own country supported by 41 traditional products and 4 Organic products in its current range of SWAD portfolio.