Amma’s is a real family concern
HIGHLY rated and Manchester Food & Drink Festival Awards nominated in the vegetarian offering of the year 2018 category, Amma’s Canteen is well worth the trip to Chorlton. With authentic south Indian street food from curries fresh from the pot to dosas direct off the griddle, there’s masses to choose from, including a good spread of vegetarian, vegan-friendly and gluten-free options.
From the street cart, we’re partial to the fiery Chicken 65 bar snacks – a famous bar food in Chennai – and also the Cauliflower Bezule – very spicy, the menu warns. Gordo absolutely loves the place, especially the Karuveppilai Eral dish of lentil and curry crusted king prawns that comes with a house special of curry mayo. But it’s not just the food that we love about Amma’s Canteen – we also think it’s great that this small, independent, family-run business is doing so well after everything that husband-and-wife team Saju Ravindran and Ganga Vishwanathan have put into the restaurant.
When we hear all the positive things about our food and service from our customers, we are so very proud
Doors opened on 29 April 2017, so the couple are nearing their two-and-a-half-year anniversary at Amma’s. Ganga says that it was always Saju’s dream to open up a south Indian restaurant, but the idea really took hold when both their kids – a daughter and a son, the youngest – had started school. Saju used to work for pub groups in Cheshire and, before the birth of their son, Ganga used to work for the HSBC banking group.
Ganga says: “I enjoyed my work very much as I was always was able to balance work and my personal life very well, but after my son was born, things changed and I had to leave my job. I decided to be a full-time mum at least until my son started school. Once he was in school full time, I started to look for other jobs and that’s when we slowly started to talk about opening up our own place and with the financial support from our families we began a serious search for the right place. After a long search for the right place, we finally found a spot called Tilly’s Bar, this was what Amma’s called when we signed the papers in the beginning of December.
“Tilly’s had lots of renovation work to be done and we estimated a opening date in the month of February. Unfortunately things didn’t go as we planned. It was taking time and even at the end of March we were not ready to open. Stress and tension started to build as we were losing money on rent without having income from the place. At the beginning of April 2017 we took a firm decision that the opening date will be 29 April 2017. We didn’t even have a menu until 2am and I still can’t forget the picture of Saju narrating while one of our best friends typed up the menu early that morning, and other family and friends running around for grocery shopping. With one staff, and our daughter Kshama – who was 14 at that time – helping us. Without even a till machine, we took the courageous step to open Amma’s on the decided date. Saju was working in the kitchen and I was in the front – it was nerve-racking for me as I didn’t have any experience in the hospitality industry at all.
“Amma’s was open seven days for lunch and dinner, and it was really starting to get busy for a new restaurant. As a young family we were not able to manage the time for business and kids, and that was causing a big pressure between me and Saju. After lots of quarrelling with each other and walk-outs, we finally decided to close for a day to spend some time together as family and that really helped, and as Amma’s grew we started to tackle things in a better way and our understanding got better.
“Today we have a fantastic team who help us run Amma’s smoothly. When we hear all the positive things about our food and service from our customers, we are so very proud that all the hard work and time we put in to Amma’s as a family is definitely worth it. I love being at work and enjoy every bit of it, and each day brings us different experiences with the customers.”
Amma’s Canteen is open every day except Mondays – family day in the Amma’s household.
See the menu here.
Book your visit to Amma’s Canteen here.