As a child you probably went to your favourite ‘family restaurant’ with your parents every weekend. It used to be a much-awaited family affair because obviously, there was no other dining option. Eating out meant visiting a sit-down restaurant, and in most cases still means the same. But this is 2017: new laws, new brands, new movies and finally there’s something new in the restaurant industry too. We’re talking about a slew of ‘un-restaurants’ which serve exciting food without abiding to the format of typical restaurants. From food stalls and kiosks at shopping malls, to home cooks serving authentic local food at their residence, eating out has a whole new meaning now.
The Rise of ‘Un-restaurants’
From the point of view of a business owner, running a restaurant is definitely very expensive, what with those crazy licenses and rocketing property prices. Not all who want to enter the booming hospitality industry are rich. Launching one’s own food truck or a kiosk involves relatively less capital and is easier to run, with low maintenance costs. All in all, it’s a low risk investment promising higher returns.
Plus the idea is catchy. A truck full of food on the move is a new thing and thus, attracts attention. Definitely, people want to make hay while the sun shines. You need not have a full menu. If you specialise in shakes, go ahead and launch a shakes-only food truck. The good part about this culture is that it focuses on limited menu and cuisine. So finally there’s a place where the same chef is not cooking dosa and tiramisu! Although the laws regarding food trucks are still quite strict (in Mumbai, food trucks must station themselves at a fixed spot; they can’t drive around the city), the culture is surely picking up and people are loving the concept.
Millennials today are ready to experiment. And they don’t mind eating on the road without a seat as long as the food is incredible!
Welcome The Change
Now, the restaurant culture is not going anywhere–it’s here to stay. But people in cities are seeing more and more options to fill their tummies, for instance, food stalls are more crowded than sit-down restaurants inside malls. People also love those mobile kiosks selling ice cream, popcorn, rolls etc.
Indian consumers are more than open to change. Who would’ve thought people would go and dine in the homes of complete strangers? But the concept of home cooks serving authentic, local meals using their secret family recipes, is quite exciting for foodies in the city. Authenicook is one such service, which gives you a chance to sample traditional cuisine and dine with a local family in Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, Pune, Kochi and other cities.
Then there are makeshift kitchens or commercial kitchens preferred by chefs and restauranteurs who don’t want to invest a whole lot in setting up their own kitchens. These places usually don’t have a sit-down facility to serve food so they home-deliver.
People are welcoming the change in the food scenario across various cities in India. As Manika Pahwa, a 29-year-old restaurateur and owner of an upcoming food chain in Himachal Pradesh puts it, “The Indian mindset is adapting to this American culture because of the pace of life that currently prevails in every household. People don’t have time to chill out usually; (they are) too busy with their jobs. Everyone looks forward to a quick meal which is offered by these food trucks. Even those who have time would check out these kiosks to grab a bite, just out of curiosity, and find out why it’s so crowded!”
These new food destinations are experimental, easy on the pocket and are cool to hang out at. No wonder millennials are drawn towards it. Kiosk owner Neeta Gupta, 28, tells us, “I’m a housewife and a good cook. Although a small one, I’m glad to have opened this food kiosk at a popular mall in the city to showcase my culinary talent (she does American cuisine). I feel elated when youngsters praise me for the food I cook.”
You will find endless options when you go looking for mall kiosks and stalls, and there are quite a few food trucks in India too. Several other food-related startups are doing exceptionally well; the inflation never affects how hungry and eager consumers are!
Those who love food and want to start their own food-related venture are no longer thinking of opening a restaurant; there’s so much more to explore. For instance iChef.in, a service that sends across a kit of pre-measured ingredients for you to cook a restaurant-quality meal at home. Eatelish.com promises to fetch you the best of local ingredients from across the country be it spices, condiments or even the local recipes. There are several food companies offering healthy snack subscription boxes too.
Where Are You Headed?
The options are endless for sure in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Bangalore and Kolkata for food truck business, and more cities are getting added to the list. Some customers feel that food trucks might get exhaustive after a while because one cannot eat the same dish repeatedly. However, food truck owners believe they are here to stay and are ready to innovate as per demand. What do you say? Yay or nay? Tell us in the comments below.
Image Credit: TheBetterIndia.com