Kattans Restaurant Palakkad: Bus Owner Becomes Lockdown Hero to Support Bus Staff During COVID-19

Sajeev Thomas, Ithihas Travels Owner, Starts Kattans Restaurant in Palakkad

A true hero, Sajeev Thomas would stop at nothing to stand by his bus staff. He started Kattans Restaurant in Palakkad to help them financially during the lockdown. 

The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the Indian public transport industry has been devastating. After the lockdown as was announced, businesses were shut for months altogether and job losses mounted into tens of thousands. Across the country, operators as well as employees were struggling to cope up with the effects of the pandemic.

But amidst the confusion and the uncertainty triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, it also gave us Lockdown Heroes — brave hearts that have defied all odds to come forward and reach out to others and make a difference.

Kattans Restaurant Palakkad is one such story. It’s an inspiring story of a compassionate fleet owner who went a step ahead to help his bus staff during the lockdown.

Sajeev Thomas, Ithihas Travels Owner, Starts Kattans Restaurant in Palakkad


The employees and workers of the private transport industry were among the worst effected by the pandemic. As the transport industry came to a standstill, only a few operators could afford to support their employees as months began to pass. Suddenly out of work, and with little saving to their name, survival became a true challenge for most transport employees.

Things were no different for Sajeev Thomas as well, owner of Kerala based Ithihas Travels. Ithihas Travels operates 18 buses and as soon as the lockdown was announced, as many as 30 employees found themselves jobless. But Sajeev Thomas was determined to stand by his staff and support them through this crisis.

Sajeev Thomas, Ithihas Travels Owner, Starts Kattans Restaurant in Palakkad


A few weeks through the lockdown, he started selling mangoes to provide employment to his bus staff. After the mango season was over, Thomas began selling vegetables and soon expanded business to a grocery shop, called Cheriyangaadi. “Yet, I couldn’t employee all of them and that’s when we decided to start Kattans,” says the 44 year old lockdown hero.

Without any prior experience in the food business, Thomas launched Kattans, a tea shop that offered tea and popular Keralite snacks. Except 3 people who cook, the restaurant is entirely manned by the staff of Ithihas Travels, and if Sajeev is to be believe, they are doing a good job. Apart from monthly salaries, the bus staff also earns a share of the revenue from the stall.

Sajeev Thomas Kattans Restaurant Palakkad Ithihas Travels

Just five months in, Kattans popularity has rocketed in the area because of its fresh food, amicable staff and last but not the least its quirky interior decor. “We started out by offering just tea and savories like cutlet, vada and Pazham Pori. Over the last five months, we have received overwhelming response from our customers and so we have expanded our menu. Now we offer appam, puttu, egg curry and kadala, among others, for breakfast and a wide variety including fish curry, kappa, chicken, beef, biriyani, etc., for lunch and dinner,” says Thomas.

Sajeev Thomas, Ithihas Travels Owner, Starts Kattans Restaurant in Palakkad


Kattans restaurant sports an eco-friendly vibe with reed mattresses and coconut fronds and can accommodate around 18 people. But what is most striking is the caricatures of Malayalam Cinema villains that adorns its walls. “Everyone pays homage to Heroes, but we wanted to do it differently and go for the villains instead,” Thomas adds. 

Ithihas Travels has resumed operations from December 2020, but several of the bus staff have decided to stay back and take care of Kattans, Pallakad.

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