The battle heats up in a little quiet place known as Section 11 (often mistaken as Section 12). Once a quiet place just off the Federal Highway and Jalan Universiti is now the battleground for 2 Sri Paandi.
Tosai at Sri Paandi
The Star 14 August 2005
Curry War: Paandi vs Paandi
BY M. KRISHNAMOORTHY
PETALING JAYA: It is hot and spicy, with plenty of massala.
Dubbed the “Curry Feud of the Sri Paandis,” the rivalry between two restaurants with the same name has become a hot topic among the residents in Section 11 here.
The two South Indian food restaurants not only share the same name but their waiters also wear the same purple uniforms.
There is another similarity between their owners – both started their careers in a South Indian Chettinad shop in Brickfields, which also has the same name.
The first Sri Paandi restaurant run by K. Saraswathy started business in December 2000 in the quiet neighbourhood of the University Malaya Medical Centre.
The problem began when another Sri Paandi, owned by David Gnanamuthu, opened for business next door two months ago. And that was when all hell broke loose.
To complicate matters, David’s father Chinnakannu Gnanamuthu, 60, has a 10% share in Saraswathy’s restaurant.
As a loyal gesture, she gave the share to Chinnakannu, who was one of the original owners of the first Brickfields outlet.
Chinnakannu hoped that everything would end well with the parties reaching agreement soon.
“There is no use fighting over serving food to the public. They must serve the food with a good heart so that the public will be satisfied.
“I have told them to settle whatever misunderstanding between them,” he added.
But in the meantime, the Sri Paandi vs Sri Paandi battle is brewing, with many customers confused over the same names.
The competition has become so intense that their waiters canvass for customers, some resorting to pulling in people as they walk by.
The daily scene outside the shops – with waiters walking around like sandwich boys with posters claiming to be from the original Sri Paandi outlet – has all trappings of a South Indian melodramatic movie.
One thing’s for sure, both serve the same South Indian Chettinad spicy dishes prepared by cooks from India.
The owners admit the confusion, but said that they hope to reach an agreement soon.
“We are working it out and will resolve the problem and be united again,” said Saraswathy’s husband, A. Shinnaiah.
Saraswathy said: “(David) Gnanamuthu must understand that his father is also our partner. We have a long-standing relationship.
“The customers think that our shop has expanded as both restaurants’ waiters wear the same purple colour uniform,” Saraswathy said.
David said that he was all for a settlement and was willing to sell his restaurant to Saraswathy.
The Sri Paandi became famous for its South Indian food when it first started operations in Brickfields about 20 years ago.
The Star 15 August 2005
Owners of Brickfields Sri Paandi restaurant cry foul
PETALING JAYA: What’s in a name?
Plenty, as far as the owners of Sri Paandi restaurants are concerned.
The curry feud between the two Sri Paandi restaurants in Section 11 here has just become spicier – the owners who originated the restaurant name are claiming that one of them was using the “franchise name” without consent.
M.P. Ariyaputhiran, 73, and V. Ramupillai, 77, the duo who started the Sri Paandi restaurant in 1987, claimed that the name was being used although no shares were allocated to them by the owner as promised.
Referring to the older restaurant in Section 11, Ariyaputhiran said there would not be a dispute if its owners K. Saraswathy and husband A. Shinniah gave them a 50% share.
Saraswathy’s rival who runs the neighbouring Sri Paandi outlet which opened two months ago, David Gnanamuthu, who is also the managing director of the original Sri Paandi in Brickfields, said if they did not want to give the shares due, they should not use the original name.
“The partners are old and want me to run the restaurants, and as part of the group’s expansion I started the restaurant in PJ.
“However, we think we can unite and be one group if 50% of the shares are given to us by Saraswathy,” David added.
David said neither Saraswathy nor Shinniah, had worked with the Brickfields Sri Paandi.
David had with him the Brickfields Sri Paandi’s registration with the Companies Commission of Malaysia.
“I have never wanted to sell the restaurant. I was only asking for the agreed share due to the Brickfields company,” he added.
When contacted, Saraswathy, who started her restaurant five years ago, said that discussions were still in progress.
“Sri Paandi is a Hindu deity’s name and we are using it as a mark of respect.
“They should not ask for any royalty because there are many people using this name in other businesses too,” she said.
Yesterday, The Star reported that a “hot and spicy” feud was taking place between the two neighbouring restaurants who were using the same name with their workers even wearing the same uniforms.
The scene is the same. The Sri Paandi (PJ) was still a huge success as it was when it opened in Section 11. The restaurant was packed on most occasions. It created a huge confusion when another Sri Paandi opened just next door. The loyalty is very obvious; the Sri Paandi (PJ) on the right remains popular compared to its new neighbor. I thought of flipping a coin to decide which Sri Paandi to enter but decided to go to the initial Sri Paandi (PJ) in the area. It is brighter as it had windows on the side and more patrons. All the tables had beautiful marble tops.
Service was excellent, hardly have to wait. I recalled service being just as good before the other Sri Paandi decided to open next door. I ordered a Masala Tosai and an ice tea. Before I can lift my head and open my mouth to ask for the curry and chutney, they were placed before me. Service is as though they can read my mind. The moment you lift your head to ask for service, 3-4 pairs of eyes will be looking your way. I think service is a little excessive; sometimes I find 3 people attending the same table.
I pour a whole load of dahl on to the banana leaf and before they took the curry containers away, they pour another helping of dahl on to the tosai. Chutney was on the sweet side. The Masala was light and not too spicy. I think the restaurant had its principle right, good food and excellent service. Price is however, not right, a little on the low side for excellent service.
Sri Paandi Shop
Remarks: By popularity vote, Sri Paandi (PJ) seems to be the winner. I have not tried the neighbour to actually compare. With majority of people on the Sri Paandi (PJ) side, I see little reasons to venture further.
Getting there: Section 11, Petaling Jaya, just off the road from Jalan Universiti.
GPS coordinates: N 03° 06.6630' E 101° 38.9396'
Originally published at tasek.net on the 3rd of February, 2006. Re-published with permission.