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December 11, 2007

The Restaurateur from Chennai

While I was reading a profile of M. Mahadevan of Oriental Cuisines in The Hindu, I realized that he seemed to own almost every restaurant that I'd enjoyed eating at in Chennai. (And, I had always associated his name mainly with "Hot Breads" - which I don't frequent at all!)

The gentleman indeed seems to be a very fascinating entrepreneur - one that is sure to be besieged by offers from Private Equity firms.

Along the way, Mahadevan, the restless man that he is, launched a whole slew of fast food and restaurant brands for every segment of consumers – Benjarong, the Thai restaurant, Wang’s Kitchen and Noodle House for Chinese, Don Pepe for Mexican, Zara, the Spanish Tavern and the byword in food courts – PlanetYumm.

Not being content with India operations, Mahadevan ventured into foreign shores – he took Hot Breads to France and Italy, tied up with Saravana Bhavan to take the brand to US and opened a string of bakeries in the Gulf region. “But India is still my exploring territory and Chennai especially is my favourite city. I have been toying around with a chocolate idea for sometime now. And, I wanted to take the bread experience a step further,” says Mahadevan. So, out came The French Loaf and Maple Leaf.

...With 11 brands in his Indian operations and 4 in the International markets, Mahadevan manages a large work force – almost 1400 people in India and about 1000 in the International markets where he is present. Mahadevan is presently on an expansion spree with plans to open outlets in Bombay and Delhi. “Benjarong and Zara are the two brands I am taking to these cities. Thai food and Spanish Tapas will quite be the rage when the outlets open,” says Mahadevan. The art of retailing food is what he has mastered over the years, catering to the constantly changing food habits of new generation and old in different market situations. Mahadevan sure has a finger in every pie as much as he has a finger on the pulse of the food market.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.