AS VP David vacated Fatima Bakery and Supermarket, a Hosur Road landmark, to make way for an underground Metro station, the last six decades flashed before his eyes.
Started by his father, Vellara Porinchukutti Francis, in 1957, Fatima Bakery is one of Bengaluru’s oldest bakeries. Francis came to the city, aged 16, from Kerala’s Kunnamkulam and began working at an automobile company as a helper. It was a desire to do something after-hours that got him to start the bakery. He named it after Portugal’s famous statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which happened to be in Bengaluru at the time.
“At that time many people from our village were working at Koshy’s and they encouraged my father to start a bakery. Soon he got his brother, VP Thomas, also to join him. Within a year the business took off and he had to leave his regular job to run the bakery. The supermarket opened around 20 years later,” said David.
Francis died in 2010 at the age of 90 and that is when David took over officially. He had already been involved with the business for many years by then, because even when he was in school, he would come to the store at lunchtime to relieve his father.
Situated near Baldwin School and Military School, it is still visited by visiting alumni. Until around 15 years ago, the bakery even allowed credit. “Our customers would maintain an account here and would clear their dues every month. From fashion gurus to entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and senior police officials — everyone had their names in our book,” he says.
The menu has not changed much, except for a few additions like sandwiches and traditional Kerala items like appams and vadas. But the favourites remain meat puffs, samosas, coconut sweets and plum cakes.
The iconic bakery will now operate from stores on Richmond Road and Bannerghatta Road, both within a radius of one kilometre from the current location. David’s son, Francis Vellara is already running another outlet at Koramangala.
The Metro station the bakery is making way for will be called Vellara Junction. The name comes from a toy store, named Vellara Junction, and operated by the family. The toy store closed, but, by then, the name stuck to the location and was recognised by the municipal corporation. “Our future generations can say that they have have a Metro station named after their family,” says David.
Benita Chacko is a Bengaluru-based writer.