Jigarthanda, Once A Small Business Stands Tall With More Than 200 Franchises

Kashfi Shamail
Kashfi Shamail Jan 18 2022 - 6 min read
Jigarthanda, Once A Small Business Stands Tall With More Than 200 Franchises
The brand today has 200 franchises across Tamil Nadu with a daily footfall of around 300-500 customers per shop.

Jigarthanda, as per the translation it means chill your liver. This is actually a legacy brand whose beverage quenches thirst, beats the heat and cools your mind all in the true-local-cultural spirit. It is well-known in the South Indian city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Our country is the most diverse country and this diversity has impacted the long-standing traditions and cultures of this land for centuries. Food, culture, and legacy this is the most time-tested and overwhelmingly powerful trio that has historically contributed to the making of regimes, civilisations and more in recent times, brands.

Everyone who travels to Madurai must try Jigarthanda. This beverage is generally prepared and served at roadside stalls as refreshment during summer. It is effectively a cold drink made of milk, almond Pisin (gum derived from the bark of the sweet almond tree), khoya, sarsaparilla root syrup (nannari sherbet syrup) with alternatives of basundi and milk ice cream as toppings. This mouth watering basically makes your JigarThanda.

A drink seemingly born in the local markets of Madurai is now largely regarded as the city’s own drink, with many restaurants and bakeries now selling ‘Madurai’s’ jigarthanda counters. It has a very interesting history from cart to brand. It started from a tiny pushcart in the 1970s and today has expanded to over 200 outlets of this ‘famous’ beverage, the iconic ‘Famous Jigarthanda’ of Madurai.

In the present day, Famous Jigarthanda is a household name in the city. It was started by P.S. Sheikh Meeran at the Kalavasal junction in Madurai in 1977, the business was at its full, from Sheikh Meeran. Initially selling ice creams made of milk, sugar and vanilla essence on a pushcart to selling thousands of glasses of Jigarthanda during the season’s peak.

Sheikh Meeran’s farming ancestors hailed from Yangon, Myanmar. Tales of the Meeran family say that Sheikh Meeran’s grandfather was the one who first made up a drink comprising basundi (condensed milk), milk and edible almond gum. He coincidentally came up with a version of Jigarthanda that was hot as there was no ice cream mixed in.

Situated on the famous East Marret and South Masi Street intersection, the Famous Jigarthanda shop magnetises hundreds of customers every day and peaks further during summer. Their customers gave them the name ‘famous’ to identify their shop.

With five simple components, Sheikh Meeran and Sons have made the jigarthanda synonymous with the town’s name. People of Madurai have adopted this drink and made it their own popular staple drink. The city is full of jigarthanda vendors, and there are minute differences in the variants available. But the name that stands out as the best is ‘Famous Jigarthanda - Since 1977’.

Today, the four sons have expanded the business into a chain of nine shops in Madurai and 35 regions across Tamil Nadu. S. Peer Mohammed, Sheikh Meeran’s eldest son, takes care of the Anna Nagar branch, while his next son, S. Zinda Madhar, is in charge of the shop on East Marret Street. The third in line - S. Shahul Hameed takes care of the company godown. The youngest son Amanullah takes the shop’s name and fame beyond the city limits. He is in charge of the out-station orders. Ten people manage the leading shop that sells not less than 1,000 glasses of jigarthanda in a day between 10.30 am and 10.30 pm, with only one holiday on Diwali every year.

They regularly supply for weddings and other functions in Erode, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Chennai and Bangalore. Famous Jigarthanda has its head office in East Marret Street Madurai. It operates branch offices in Madurai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Tuticorin, Virudhanagar, Hosur, Dindugal, Vellore, Theni, Sivakasi, Tiruchy, Pudhukottai, Erode, Perambalur, Idukki, Namakkal, Thirumangalam and Bangalore. With the threshold order quantity set at 100 plus items for local delivery and 300 plus for out-state delivery.

Famous Jigarthanda sells two types of jigarthanda: the normal and Special. The main ingredients that go into jigarthanda are milk, almond pisin, basundi, ice cubes and sherbet. The unique variety has more khoya than the ordinary one. The legacy brand makers prepare their own sherbet.

The drink that Famous Jigarthanda serves to its customers has condensed and chilled cow’s milk, nannari sherbet syrup, almond pisin, sugar syrup, cream, milk ice cream and basundi. This varies as per the customers’ orders. It is commonly served in glass.

In 1988, Meeran diversified his products and began selling Jigarthanda at night. He saw the drink was broadly available in the area, so, at Rs 3, he kept the price per glass lower than other vendors. He also used more basundi for a better taste in the drink. This simple yet innovative idea worked, and Meeran set up his first shop on the busy street of East Marret in 1993.

The brand today has 200 franchises across Tamil Nadu with a daily footfall of around 300-500 customers per shop. At its main store in Madurai, 1,000 glasses of Jigarthanda are served every day. The current prices of the brand’s nominal products are incredibly affordable, explaining the brand’s widespread success.

Starting with the Jigarthanda Ice Cream Small from Rs.15 and Jigarthanda Cone Ice at Rs.20, the company prices its Jigarthanda Basundi at Rs.80 and Jigarthanda Basundi Parsal at Rs.85. The Famous Jigarthanda Special is priced at Rs.60.

As the company has turned itself into a legacy brand with deep roots in the South Indian region, it understands the importance of time, technology and new models to expand its business. With a well-maintained website serving as it’s easy to access portfolio and information for lakhs of potential customers, it also gives online ordering facilities.

From letting people order desserts online to promising fast delivery of these sweets at their doorstep, the company has tapped into the large market of individual customers and the bulk ordering and large-scale event segment.

Famous Jigarthanda has become a renowned franchisor with years in the making, and it now has franchises all over Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and Kerala. The brand’s conduct in the market made its franchise expansion possible. As a franchisor, it provides the undertaking parties with a clear picture of the competition and helps them distinguish themselves as entrepreneurs in the market.

More recently, the company has been exporting its food and beverage items. It now undertakes export orders of Jigarthanda to countries like Malaysia, Dubai and Singapore. Local Beverage Company on cart sets new heights for other small businesses and local entrepreneurs to make every effort in the age of the tech-based business.

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