Fine Dine Love

General, India, Must-reads

The Workaround: Solving Delivery Vs Retail Woes

19 Mar , 2016  

A few months ago, I made my way to Colaba Market to grab lunch at The Bao Haus Co., and managed to convince my hard-to-please Mum to tag along too. I’d been seeing pictures of their soft, pillowy baos on Instagram and since I’m a sucker for all things trending with a ‘#’, there was no way I was going to give this place a miss. Once near Colaba Market, I followed the instructions on Google Maps to take me to the exact location and when I reached, I was surprised to find that there was no place to sit as it was a delivery-only outlet. Of course, the Owner & Chef, Siddharth Somaiya let us hang out and eat there. It was lunch hour, and they were doing brisk business – all deliveries!

During my chat with Deb Mukerjee for our piece on ‘Food Lovers Who Quit Their Fancy Corporate Jobs’, he mentioned that his company started out with Mexiloko, a quick service restaurant, before moving on to the deliver-only format of their new venture ‘Pan of Asia’. “While running a retail chain, we realised that a lot of fixed costs (rentals, electricity) become a huge stress point, especially in a city like Mumbai – which ultimately affects the price of the final product and the profitability. Moving to a primarily delivery focused model ensures that the customer gets very high quality products at a reasonable price,” Mukherjee expliained.

Deb Mukherjee, Director, Ceres Hospitality

Deb Mukherjee, Director, Ceres Hospitality

Siddharth Somaiya agreed that overheads were a major concern for him too, as was the fact that The Bao Haus Co was starting out with mostly just baos, a slightly niche selection. “We did not want to fail at our first venture by starting off with a dine-in format for a cuisine that customers are not very familiar with, so we decided to launch as a delivery only establishment,” added Somaiya.

Siddharth Somaiya, Chef & Owner, The Bao Haus Co

Siddharth Somaiya, Chef & Owner-The Bao Haus Co

The irony being that while sale of property seems to have slowed down in Mumbai, rentals remain sky-high. Apart from the delivery format that eliminates this high cost, I’ve observed that food entrepreneurs come up with other ‘disruptive’ formats. Vishal Shah, Owner of Haute Chef, a meal kit delivery service, opted for a DIY method of putting together gourmet meals because he didn’t want to be “another fish in the ocean” by opening a restaurant. That, plus the fact that Mumbai is no longer a nascent market for food prompted Ayushi Shah, Owner and Head Chef of Icing on Top to opt for the distribution model after closing her store. “We stock our eggless baked goodies at Foodhall, Nature’s Basket, local grocery stores and have even expanded to other cities. Our cookies and crackers are unique, so we decided to let our products make us stand out rather than spending on a store,” says Ayushi Shah.

Ayushi Shah, Owner & Head Chef, Icing On Top

Ayushi Shah, Owner & Head Chef, Icing On Top

Expensive as it might be to invest in a restaurant or store in Mumbai, it’s impressive to see how these entrepreneurs have worked around the ever-escalating overheads in the city. Rather than spending on rent and décor, they’ve chosen to let their products set them apart and ensure better quality for their customers.

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Tarika Singh is a Mumbai-based food blogger, YouTuber and recipe developer. Every week, she comes up with recipes that are lapped up by an audience not just from India, but around the world. Her growing popularity and following has led to successful collaborations with brands such as Dove and KitchenAid India amongst others, and Tarika also features on the cover of Femina magazine dated July 14th 2015.




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