There’s always been one slight hiccup in the Six Sigma dabbawala network — they deliver impeccably, but they don’t cater.
That could now change, as the Mumbai Dabbawala Association gets set to rope in dabbawalas’ wives to cook at a central kitchen to be opened in Vikhroli.
This new service is targeted primarily at young working couples who want fresh, home-cooked lunches but do not have the time to cook them.
This has so far been an untapped market for Mumbai’s famed dabbawalas — who pick up meals every morning that have been cooked in their clients’ homes, typically by spouses, and deliver them to their offices by afternoon.
“When we launched our website [mumbaidabbawala.in] four months ago, we received many requests from working couples who had no time to cook. They were asking for not just delivery, but for a catering service that could provide community-specific food — mainly Maharashtrian and Gujarati cuisine,” said Subhash Talekar, general secretary of the dabbawalas’ association. “We would refer them to existing services in Mumbai, but then we thought, why not provide such a service ourselves?”
The Association realised this would be a good supplementary source of income for the families of the dabbawalas. “The average dabbawala earns Rs 10,000 a month,” he said.
“We are now approaching their wives with our catering proposal. We need at least 50 to sign on, after which we will approach the BMC for the requisite permissions for the central kitchen,” Talekar added.
President Raghunath Medge said the association is excited to venture into the production side of food delivery. “We are still finalising how this food will be produced. On the plus side, we definitely have our delivery systems ready to go,” he said.