Pune: Vaishali’s owner Jagannath B Shetty passes away

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Jagannath B Shetty, the force behind Pune’s iconic restaurants – Vaishali, Roopali and Amrapali – died of age-related illness at the Prayag Hospital here around 8.15am on Sunday.

“Today, we have lost a doyen of our hospitality industry. Jagannath Shetty had changed the way people perceived restaurants and the hospitality business. At one time, restaurants were looked down upon. Jagannath Shetty was among those who insisted on respect, going as far as to say, ‘If you speak badly to us, you won’t be served’. He turned restaurants into brands. Vaishali, for instance, is well known not only in Maharashtra but also worldwide,” Ganesh Shetty, the president of the Pune Restaurants & Hoteliers Association, said.

Jagannath’s cousin, Shashindra Shetty, added that Jagannath was a hands-on restaurateur. Until last year, despite his failing health, Jagannath visited Vaishali regularly. “He was in a wheelchair but spoke to managers before going home,” Shashindra said.

Jagannath was born on October 8, 1932, in Onimajalu mane, Bailur under Udupi district of Karnataka. At the age of 13, he left the village to work in Kalyan with his uncle for a monthly salary of Rs 3. He arrived in Pune in 1949, when he was 17, to work at the hotel owned by his uncle, Late Shridhar Shetty. After Shridhar died, he married his daughter Shakuntala. They have a daughter, Nikita. With his hard work — he reportedly put in 19 hours every day for 20 years — Jagannath became one of the most important figures in the country’s hospitality industry. Incidentally, Roopali and Vaishali were originally called Madras Cafe and Madras Health Home, respectively.

A much-awarded entrepreneur, Jagannath also took on social evils such as dowry. He instituted the JB Shetty gold medals for newlywed couples who married without dowry. Last year, he donated Rs 1 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. He was also a keen golfer and captained the Poona Golf Club in 1997-98.

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