India File

When small is beautiful

| Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on March 27, 2017

Globally, 60 per cent of restaurants shut down within the first year   -  debra millet/shutterstock.com

Home chefs are free of hassles that come with opening a restaurant

Most people turn home chefs, instead of becoming restaurateurs because of the exorbitant cost of opening an eatery. While in a city like Mumbai it can cost anywhere between ₹50 lakh and ₹5 crore, depending on the location, the investment can go up to a ₹1 crore even in a city like Pune. “The investment in a business from home is close to zero,” says Saket Khanna, founder and CEO of MealTango.

Moreover, 12-15 government licences are required to open an outlet in India in contrast to seven in the US and four in Singapore. “So it is relatively easier to be a home entrepreneur,” he adds.

But financing in the food sector is still limited to food technology start-ups, which have received investment by private equity players or venture capitalists.

“There is a lot of leakage in a restaurant’s supply chain, resulting in wastage of about 10 to 12 per cent. Corruption is another factor,” says Munaf Kapadia of The Bohri Kitchen.

Munaf points out that a home kitchen saves him from paying rent or spending on permanent staff costs. “There are no daily overheads,” he says. The pop-up at Kapadia residence works through Facebook, where events are announced and people have to sign up in advance. The traditional Bohri food is not available in restaurants but is in high demand. Munaf has done food events in Goa on special request.

Since cuisines like Bohri are not easily available, people are willing to pay a premium. While the Kapadias charge ₹1,500 to ₹1,700 per person for the weekend lunch, Gitika Saikia, who specialises in tribal north-eastern cuisine, also charges a similar amount.

Saikia gave up her corporate job to turn a home chef but has stayed away from being a restaurateur. “Home chefs can procure supplies from local markets or hypermarkets. But for a larger scale, you need suppliers, multiple licences and hire people. The staff require a lot of training and maintaining quality is not easy.”

So she has chosen the pop-ups, plus big events, route to popularise the unexplored cuisine of the tribes in North-East. “I do two-three events in a month. Any event which has over 40 people is enough for making profits,” says Saikia, well known for dishing out silkworm pupa and pond bugs.

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Published on March 27, 2017
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