With smaller budgets, fewer staff, takeaway joints mushroom across MumbaiUpdated: Oct 16, 2020, 00:33 IST
The Covid-19 lockdown has given a boost to the parcel system, giving rise to several small takeaway food joints across the city.
These joints need significantly lesser capital, fewer staff as well as smaller spaces compared to establishing regular hotels. In addition to it, apart from their own delivery executives, these small takeaway joints are also registered with online food-ordering apps such as Zomato and Swiggy, paving way to their growth.
“Despite the fact that hotels have been reopened, citizens are reluctant to visit them owing to the fear of the Covid-19 pandemic and hence these small joints are a big draw. Such joints will survive even after the pandemic is over as people today find it convenient to order food,” said Anuj Kejriwal, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO), Anarock Retail, a consultancy firm.
Spread on a 100-square-feet outlet, Chai Nashta is an example of the thriving takeaway joints across the city. Located at Pydhonie, Chai Nashta was opened by 17-year old college student Ayyub Sayed.
“My father lost his job during the pandemic and we are facing hard times. We had a small area available and it’s my passion to prepare various food items. So I decided to start this new venture. We have no hotels in the vicinity and hence I am trying my luck,” said Sayed, adding that he is supplying foods such as pizzas, samosas, French fries, nachos, burgers as well as different types of teas.
At Powai, Raghav Pai, who always harboured plans to start his food venture, got a chance to establish it when the city was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in the closing down of many establishments. He started Saffron Kitchen at a 400-square-feet area.
“As the rents had reduced, we grabbed the opportunity and rented the place. We also got utensils and other items at cheaper rates, as traders wanted to dispose of their items,” said Pai, adding that his entire business was set up on a capital of Rs8 lakh – a sum that is impossible to start a hotel or a restaurant, as they are very costly propositions.
When the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, hoteliers were allowed to operate on the condition that they would only undertake take-away parcels. Many hoteliers could not sustain their businesses as they were paying high rents for the hotel premises and employed large number of staffers.
According to the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), small outlets are cost-effective and can be set up in one-fifth of the budget of setting up a hotel.
“Any decent restaurant needs an area of around 1,000-square-feet and hence needs an investment of over Rs1 crore but a small take-away joint needs hardly a 200-square-feet area and one can set it up within Rs20 lakh,” said Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, former president, HRAWI.
Celebrity chef Sandip Patil, who works in famous Marathi serial Aga Bai Sasubai, is starting his venture Chef’s Kitchen on a 240-square-feet at Lalbaug.
“We will be having 240 items on our menu and it can easily be managed in this small place by smart planning,” said Patil, adding that the cuisine would vary from Indian, Continental and Punjabi at his outlet.
According to Patil, one of the advantages of running small outlets is that they hardly need seven employees as compared to hotels where at least 15 are needed.
Hotel and restaurant consultant Savio D’sa says while the take-away joints are part of innovation, he said those who run such joints must be cautious.
“Just jumping in the bandwagon without any planning makes no business sense. They should ensure quality, offer various options as well as give timely deliveries,” said D’sa, adding, “It would be interesting to see how this food business evolves when people start frequenting the hotels in the post Covid-19 scenario.”