Brand hit by murder


The founder of a worldwide South Indian vegetarian restaurant chain targeting Queenstown is a newly-convicted murderer.

Saravanaa Bhavan opened its first New Zealand outlet in Auckland last week, just days after founder P. Rajagopal was jailed for orchestrating the abduction and murder of an employee, in 2001, with the intention of marrying the man’s wife.

Sydney-based Saravanaa Bhavan director Shekar Mani told The New Zealand Herald newspaper that the business was distancing itself from Rajagopal – “the brand has outgrown its creator”.

“We’re revamping because this man is a hardened criminal.”

Mani also said the chain wanted to open more restaurants in NZ, with the next one likely to be in Queenstown.

The Auckland opening’s been marred by service delays which Mani attributed to a lack of experienced staff.

That was partly due to NZ’s immigration policy, he told the Herald.