ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 33

Undying flavour under the shade of pol athu

By Isuri Kaviratne

The Colombo-Kandy road was as busy as always. Those using this busy highway often feel the need to break journey and what better place to do so than at the “Pol Athu Kade”, in Ambepussa, that has been providing shade and refreshment to travellers for 22 years. Somapala Namarathne, who is known as mama is a happy man as the shop has developed beyond his expectations. But he has not forgotten how he first started in a small hut covered with ‘pol athu’. “My wife cooked every meal then, 22 years ago. Now, she supervises the activities of the kitchen and decides on the menus,” he said.

Namarathne : A proud man today. Pix by Berty Mendis

Namarathne also talked about things that had not changed since the early days. “We don’t allow alcohol inside the hotel and we don’t serve beef either,” he said.

Going down memory lane he said there was no grand opening way back then since they started in a small way, but added that people who didn’t take any notice of him then now call him ‘sir’.

Talking about plans for the future Namarathne said he and his sons--who play a big role in the running of the hotel- would be making changes in the new year.

The three-storied hotel was initially popular with lorry drivers. “The hotel is still popular with them, but the fame has spread to other travellers too,” said N. B. A. Chirantha, the eldest son of the family, fondly referred to as ‘Loku Aiya’. He also said they now have second generation customers.

Providing good food and friendly environment

Elaborating on the kitchen activities was L. Nandawathi, the wife of Namarathne and the nenda of the hotel. “ We have one group to cook the dhal, another to cut onions and so on,” she said adding that priority is given to local specialities in every meal. “Cleanliness is a hallmark of the hotel and this is one reason why it is so popular,” she said.

Sarath Bandara, a regular customer at the ‘Pol Athu Kade’ said he has been having lunch at the hotel for the past 15 years. “We come from Colombo but we always stop here in spite of the many hotels on the way,” Bandara said.

‘Pol Athu Kade’ is open every day from 7.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.