Director, Sandeepha Chain of Restaurants based in a city that simply adores food, Chennai.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” ― Frederick Douglass
Patricia’s family consisted of her father who worked in the Posts & Telegraphs department and her mother in the Telephones department — along with her two younger siblings, who were based in Santhome.
Year 1977, 17 year old Patricia Thomas, eldest of 3 siblings was studying at Queen Mary’s when she met Narayan, a Brahmin boy, Soon she fell in love with a boy who was 13 years elder than her and was a Hindu and decided to marry him! They quietly got married at the registrar’s office.
They decided that she would finish her college first and then break the news to her parents. But within the three months of her marriage, his husband started putting pressure on Patricia to come out with him and he was constantly threatening her that if she didn’t tell her parents about their marriage then, he would.
Without much of a choice, she disclosed the news and faced all the heat from her parents. Soon the news also spread amongst her relatives and the only solution to control the damage was to have the couple socially married. And having said that; the couple took the vows in a Purasaiwalkam church, after which both the families disconnected ties with them.
Pandora Box opened for her post marriage, within years her father disowned her, her Prince Charming turned out to be an abusive drug addict, with no financial support.
Patricia moved into a rented house in Anna Nagar with his husband, only to realise that life was nowhere close to a Mills & Boon story and was just a big bloat of disaster. She figured that she had become pregnant by a husband who was heavily into alcohol and drugs, had no money to survive and had no intentions to earn as well.
To make things worse; she wasn’t able to bring him out of the addiction and got beaten up almost every other day.
Now with no money, no earnings and two small kids, she was left stranded without a roof and had nowhere to go. That is when her father, who although still never forgave her, but he gave Patricia, her husband & two children a refuge at his place.
“I knew I should either succumb to the burden or fight; I decided to fight my lonely battle.”
Nowhere to go Patricia turned to her passion of cooking, took a 100 rupee from her mother and started making pickles, jam, jelly and squashes.
June 21, 1982 with two disable employees started her own mobile cart at Marina beach. Her cart sold cutlets, samosas, fresh juice, coffee and tea. First day sale was only a coffee for 50 paisa.
“The Marina is my business school, it is my MBA,” says Patricia.
Following day she sold eatables worth 600-700 Rupee, working hard at Marina cart from 1982 to 2003, the maximum she made was Rs 25,000 a day.
Next she took up catering at the Slum Clearance Board, it boasted her income by 20,000.
Later she left the previous canteen and started serving 300 people daily at Bank of Madurai canteen.
Her succeeding move was serving 700 students daily at National Port Management training school. She left Bank canteen. With Marina cart and school canteen she was making almost a lakh each week. Left the school canteen in 1998.
Year 2004, on the verge to start a restaurant business of her own along with son Praveen, she suffered another emotional trauma. Patricia’s daughter who got married a month back and her son-in-law died in a road accident.
This devastated Patricia, it was her son started their first restaurant ‘Sandeepha’ in memory of Patricia’s late daughter.
Ever since Sandeepha has 14 outlets across Chennai.
On the day of demise of her daughter the ambulance denied carrying dead bodies and her daughter was brought back in the boot of a car. She now provides for an ambulance service at the same spot to help others.
Patricia Narayan was awarded the ‘FICCI Woman Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2010.
3 decades of hard work, 14 outlets, 200 employees and a daily income of 2 lakh, Patricia has proved no hurdle can ever stop a determined soul.
Always stick to what you know.
Believe in yourself and the product you are making.
Never compromise on quality.
Never lose your self-confidence.
You should know what you ask your employee to do.
Struggle makes you even more mature to retain the success for a long time.
Success isn’t a status or possession that stays with you for lifetime, or a permanent stoppage of an accomplishment, it is rather a constant journey where you have to maintain your consistency.
Pain is an inevitable part of life and it shouldn’t stop us from moving forward as – ‘moving is life’ and ‘still is dead’.
To be a successful entrepreneur, you don’t have to be highly educated (as degree doesn’t always ensure success).
You need a genuine desire to trust your vision to accomplish your dream anyway and anyhow, determination to create an opportunity out of adversity, honesty towards consistency on the rough way of destiny and patience to reach it and taste it.