Sunday, 25 August 2013

City that never stops eating

For a city that never sleeps, it's a wonder this service didn't come around sooner. In the past year, a crop of late night food delivery services have emerged to feed hungry Mumbaikars either out of food or facing a (very) late night craving. The latest to emerge is Feast in a Tray that, says owner Anand Bhatia, developed organically from a two-year-old corporate lunch catering service.

Typically, most of these services also offer other essentials, like Eno, Digene, sanitary napkins, cigarette packets, chips, fizzy drinks, and mineral water. Other similar services include Fly by Knight, started in May last year, Mad Bites, launched in December 2011 and now an elaborate affair with check-in boxes and a shopping cart icon, and the simpler Night Dragon, launched this January. All have websites, a menu, and a number - all customers need to do is dial and wait.

Neha Jain, the 28-year-old cofounder of Fly by Knight, points out that the service initially didn't offer food, but only essentials. "A lot of people needed basic stuff that they'd come home and find they had run out of, like water, or munchies. Within a month, we added desserts like muffins and brownies. We would store items in our homes, but as we expanded, we moved into a shared office space and hired a warehouse. Three months after we launched, we realised there was demand for food, especially from production companies that work till late. So, we found a place where we could source the food from." At present, the service offers Cup-o-noodles, anda-pav, finger foods like chicken and paneer tikka, and meals like Thai curry and rice. They're also nice enough to list the price of each.

Jain makes an important point. A March 2013 report brought out by FICCI-KPMG, stated that the country's media and entertainment industry - two of the most prolific employers of young working professionals in the city - is poised to double in size by 2017. The industry whose current size is estimated at Rs 91,700 crore is expected to rise to Rs 1,66,000 crore. In other words, the potential audience for these services is only growing.

What's more, Mumbai isn't the only city where this entrepreneurial venture has taken off. New Delhi has a clutch of services as well, including Midnight Munchies started by 23-year-old Arjun Sethi with an initial investment of Rs 4 lakh. The former Ernst & Young employee launched this service in November 2012, and intends to roll out across the country in the next three years.

Yet, Bhatia, who has been in the hospitality business for 17 years, strikes a note of caution. Bhatia, the director of Golden Swan Group, rolled out Feast in a Tray in June after having started a lunch catering service meant primarily for office-goers in 2011. "I have a kitchen that's running 24x7. I have the manpower for delivery. So it made sense to start a service that catered food at night."

The menu is limited to 20 dishes - "that late in the night, no one wants too many things to choose from; simple, comfort food is what we need" - and a minimum delivery order of Rs 500 with a delivery charge of Rs 150 is applicable. This service is available from Nariman Point to Andheri.  READ MORE

No comments:

Post a Comment