Started in 1844, this bookstore on Anna Salai is among the favourites of all book lovers in the city. The store not only has a collection of contemporary authors but also classics of Socrates, Plato, Wordsworth, Victor Hugo and others. “Our store is one of the key landmarks in the city and is a heritage building in itself. There are some customers who are in their 70s and 80s who come to our store and talk about old employees. They tell us about the store in the olden times and how the books were a delight to them in their younger age,” said Radha, accounts manager at the store. As cafe-themed stores are popular among youngsters, Higginbothams has also started four new theme-based stores, she added.
Thanjavur Military Hotel
Started more than 100 years ago in 1911, Thanjavur Military Hotel in Park Town is a delight for those who enjoy non-vegetarian food. Popularly known for its biriyani served since 8 am, the hotel is run by KK Gangadharan, who is the fourth generation to take over the hotel. “We maintain the originality of the store and continue to serve food on banana leaves and brass utensils. We also try to maintain the surroundings classically in all branches. Coal is used as firewood and our masalas have remained the same to keep the old taste alive,” said Gangadharan.
One of the oldest South Indian restaurants in the city, Triplicane Ratna Café and its idli-sambhar is famous among all Chennaiites. The general manager of the hotel, Swaminathan Dakshinamoorthy, said they retained the taste of the food as all their ingredients are being chosen and supplied straight from the farm since its inception in 1948. “We maintain the same recipe, which is our unique style for various South Indian fast foods. Despite various new branches of the store now, the Triplicane store gets the maximum number of customers,” said Swaminathan.
The Old Curiosity Shop
The Old Curiosity Shop, opened in 1946, on Mount Road is now run by the third generation after it was started as a small store for arts and handicrafts. Currently run by Mohammed Lateef, the store has all things ranging from woodworks, metals, jewellery and crockery to designer shawls and sculptures. Mohammed Lateef belongs to Kashmir but he has been in the city since his childhood when the shop was first started by his grandfather. “There were people who bought items from the shop when my grandfather was running it and now I sell these products to their grandsons. We have customers who have been loyal to us for more than 80 years. We have been working to promote and sell different forms of artistry that we collect and bring to Chennai. We are sure to continue this work in the years to come,” said Lateef.
P.Orr and Sons
Founded in 1846, P.Orr and Sons had its first store on Anna Salai. The chain of watches has been run by more than by six generations till now. Sources associated with the store said that it has undergone many changes since it was taken over by Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar. The store used to sell gold, diamonds and silver handicrafts in the earlier days but now sells clocks and watches only. Though various parts of the building have been demolished, it is one of the oldest heritage sites in the city.