Meet T. Haridas, the restauranteur, entrepreneur, philanthropist from Kerala who has won the hearts of the British through healthy and mouth-watering cuisines from God’s Own Country, and that of the Malayalees through his philanthropy.
Some 40 years ago, 21-year-old Thekkumari Haridas went to London on an invitation of his uncle who worked in the Indian Foreign Ministry. Instead of enrolling in a course, a graduate then he started working as an accountant in the High Commission of India. But the earning was not enough, he felt and so he joined an Indian restaurant after he did a diploma in catering. His dedication to work and the calibre to run a restaurant business impressed the owner who handed over the restaurant to him when it was time for him to retire. A banker who dines at the restaurant regularly came to his rescue and gave him a loan. The Sri Krishna Hotel, his first restaurant had the capacity to accommodate 34 customers, but today Haridas owns a dozen restaurants in the United Kingdom.
The British got the taste of Kerala’s cuisine from him and their liking for the food made him expand his business. He took Kerala’s culture to the customers in London who are even explained the cooking method when they visit his famous Malabar Junction restaurant in the heart of Central London. His other hotels include Ragam, Radha Krishna Bhawan, Kerala Bhawan, Pallavi, Abi Ruchi, Krishna’s Inn, Cocum, Catamaran, Mantra, Princess Hotel, Signature Eastbourne, Palm Kerala, Boscombe and Raj Malabar. Haridas is not just a restauranteur but also a philanthropist. Former Union Minister and Ambassador to the United States, Dr Karan Singh honoured Haridas at an award ceremony conducted by the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) UK at the London Marriott Hotel recently.
Haridas, who is the Managing Director of Kerala Group of Restaurants, was conferred the award in recognition for his social service. Haridas has also received the Hind Ratan award for services to India in the realm of tourism and the Tourism Man of the Year Award in the year 1999 for promoting Kerala. He is an ardent promoter of Kerala’s culture and tourism.
Kerala’s tourism information is freely available in all his restaurants. Haridas spearheads various socio-cultural organizations in the UK and Kerala. He is the founder and general secretary of the Global Kerala Foundation and is known as the Cultural Ambassador of Kerala, who organizes the Onam, Kerala Tourism Festival, India Week, Soorya Festival and other programmes promoting India. He is a member of Follow Up Committee, Government of Kerala, Norka, London, Director of Kerala Travels, International Yasudas Music Academy, Kerala and Jananeethi Institute Kerala. He also entered the Asian’s Who’s Who and Who’s Who of Britain’s Business Elite 2002.
Haridas is an accomplished film producer who introduced the famous actress Manju Warrier in his film Ee Puzhayum Kadannu. He was also instrumental in organizing the participation of Kerala at the City of London’s Lord Mayor Show for several years. Haridas continues to work as the senior administrative officer of the Indian High Commission at London and serves as the national convenor of the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress in the UK. He is a busy man and yet finds time to keep the culture of his motherland India and Kerala alive among the Indian community there.
Haridas is a dreamer who gives his best to achieve all his dreams. This native of Guruvayoor in Kerala is a great devotee of Guruvayoorapam, and now dreams to open a big restaurant at Guruvayoor where people can get quality food at affordable rates and the needy can get free meals.