Mumbai’s dabbawalas might deliver your next dine-in orderMay 21, 2021
Come hail or storm, Mumbai’s lifelines have donned their white kurtas and Nehru topis, zipped through large crowds, and delivered steaming hot tiffins to doorsteps. And then COVID happened. For the first time in nearly 130 years, the city’s dabbawalas have been amiss from the streets. No more though! Mumbai’s dabbawalas will soon be back in action.
Dabbawalas back in action
Impresario Handmade Restaurants, which runs popular dining formats such as Social and Smoke House Deli, is partnering with the city’s dabbawalas to provide direct delivery to its customers in Mumbai. “Dabbawalas are the most iconic image of the spirit of Mumbai. They have been providing meals to people for years and are really domain experts in the field. It only felt natural to partner with them during these challenging times,” says Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants.
The model not just provides employment to dabbawalas whose source of livelihood has been lost, but also solves another issue restaurateurs have been trying to navigate for years now. Since the pandemic hit, the industry has been promoting direct delivery, as commissions by aggregators eat into a major chunk of their profits. “Ordering directly from restaurants (and not through aggregators) empowers us to have direct and deeper relationships with our customers, and saves on prohibitive commissions being paid out to them,” adds Amlani.
How it works
The restaurants are currently running a pilot project. Under this phase, orders from Social, Smoke House Delhi and Salt Water Cafe in Lower Parel, Bandra West, and BKC will be fulfilled by dabbawalas. The orders will be received via Impresario’s tech platforms. The city’s dabbawalas will be trained to use the app, the delivery protocols, and how to handle payments. Amlani hopes to be able to scale up the format to include other restaurants across the city as well. “There are enough restaurants to keep all the dabbawalas busy,” he says.
What’s more, Impresario is also starting meal services that will be delivered by dabbawalas. These will not be restaurant-style meals, but nutritious food people can have on a day-to-day basis, says Amlani.
The Ghar ka Khana subscription meals from Social start at Rs6,000 per month, and will be available across Khar, Vikhroli, Versova and Lower Parel from 24 May.