COORG’S HOMEGROWN LADY ENTREPRENEUR
By P.T. Bopanna
A new chain of restaurants is slowly taking wings in Coorg, South India’s most sought after holiday destination. And the driving force behind the restaurant chain is a homegrown lady entrepreneur.
Mukkatira Pavitra Ganapathy (in picture) opened her first outlet at Virajpet in 2009, and named it ‘Pause the Unwind Café’. There has been no pause for her ever since her entrepreneurial debut.
As the name suggests, ‘Pause the Unwind Café’ is a good place to hang out with a cup of good filter coffee and a brownie or a burger. The menu at the Café is kept simple with biryani, appams and fish/ chicken curry for lunch. The main focus is on pastries and cakes giving foremost priority to quality. As the demand grew, Pavitra took a big leap and opened two more outlets, one each at Madikeri and Gonikoppal towns.
Tagging along with her father Kalamanda Pemmaiah, a banker, she had the opportunity to live in various parts of India and different districts of Karnataka. She developed a flair for cooking and interior decoration.
Her wedding trousseau included a 400 page hand written recipe book given by her mother Kalamanda (nee Natolanda) Poovie.
Marriage to Mukkatira Prem Ganapathy, a coffee planter brought her to the small town of Virajpet. She ignited her passion for food by making elaborate dinners and lunches for family and friends. She tried every recipe from her mom’s cookbook. She dabbled with chocolate and candle making and also glass painting for a couple of years. But the joy of baking for her family on birthdays and anniversaries enlivened her. She also identified and felt the dearth of a good cake and pastry shop at Virajpet. She updated herself with professional baking and cake decorating skills at Bengaluru and Pune.
In 2005 she launched Crème ‘dela Coorg from her house and turned her leisure-time hobby into a flourishing home based business. The Coorgs (Kodavas) have imbibed the western culture of cake cutting ceremony at weddings and engagements and also serve cake as short eat at various functions. Pavitra was able to spot and seize this opportunity and took a plunge to cater cakes and desserts. She also supplied burgers, pizzas and pasta to the local dental college cafeteria. The growth of tourism in Coorg also enhanced her business and made it a viable venture.
Being a woman entrepreneur in a small town is definitely a challenge. But with the support and encouragement of her family she was able to break the glass ceiling. She has upgraded her baking and decorating techniques and is on par with the big brands in the larger cities. Pavitra’s story as an entrepreneur will be a beacon for other women especially in Coorg who seek to create their own next big leap.