MUMBAI: The Udipi Idli House, a highly rated restaurant in Matunga (E), has found a way to combat the rising prices of toor dal while not increasing the menu rates.
For the last 15 days, the restaurant is charging Rs 13 extra from the patrons who leave the sambaar and rasam unfinished. The restaurant management says that several patrons order extra bowls of sambaar and rasam but end up wasting it, and those who don’t have a taste for such items can always ask the waiters to leave it out of their orders.
Toor dal costs Rs 145 to Rs 175 per kg in the wholesale market, and Rs 200 per kg in the retail market. Shooting prices of pulses has resulted in a severe backlash for the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the state, with slogans such as ‘Arhar Modi’ grabbing the headlines.
The management at the Udipi Idli House — launched 10 years ago – said that the restaurant has always discouraged patrons from wasting food.
For the last 10 days, the staff has put up notices at all the tables, saying an extra Rs 13 will be charged for wasting sambaar and rasam.
The restaurant manager, KN Kamat, said, “We wanted to ensure that the patrons don’t miss the notice. We could have done the easier thing by increasing the menu rates, but that would have upset our regular patrons.”
Kamat said that the idea has brought about the desired result. “Many customers ask for extra helpings of sambaar and rasam, and end up wasting it. From the time the notices have been put up, there has hardly been a problem. Our intention is not to penalise, we just to discourage wastage,” he said.
Another employee told Mumbai Mirror that the waiters are also instructed to request the patrons to finish the food. “At times, customers say the sambaar was cold. We offer to replace it with hot sambaar. If they still waste it, we charge them Rs 13 extra,” the employee said.
The restaurant runs the risk of running into trouble because the extra Rs 13 is not mentioned in the bill. However, old-time patrons insisted that they will support the restaurant’s campaign.
Rajul Zaveri, a resident of Matunga who is a regular at Udipi Idli House, said, “I am happy the restaurant has taken a stand against wastage. It also shows that the management believes in serving fresh food.”
Harjyot Kaur, an IT professional who frequents the restaurant, said that the notice serves as a reminder. “I have seen a lot of people wasting food. The notice is difficult to miss and remains at the back of your mind,” she said.
Several restaurants admitted that they have increased the menu rates after the toor dal prices shot up. Manjunath Pujari, manager of Mysore Cafe at Matunga, said, “We had to increase the prices. Pulses form the base of our food items and there was no option. Our business was taking a hit.”
Devrath Kamath, owner of the 75-year-old Cafe Madras, said his restaurant raised the prices by five to 10 per cent a month ago, because he was finding it difficult to “cope up”. “The rising prices of pulses is a major concern. But everything is getting expensive… We will wait and watch for two months,” he said.