Impresario partners with Mumbai’s dabbawalas

Impresario Handmade Restaurants will enter a mutually beneficial partnership with Mumbai’s dabbawalas to cater to direct orders from brands such as Social, Smoke House Deli and Salt Water Café, along with a new subscription-based home-cooked meal service.

One of the country’s oldest and most efficient systems of delivering home-cooked food to office-goers, Mumbai’s iconic dabbawalas, have been severely impacted since last year, as WFH became the new normal. Now, restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani-led Impresario Handmade Restaurants, one of India’s leading F&B entities, is tying up with dabbawalas to establish a mutually beneficial relationship; providing employment to the dabbawalas who in turn will help Impresario strengthen its own delivery network.

Mumbai dabbawalas
With WFH becoming the new normal, Mumbai’s iconic dabbawalas have been severely affected since last year and this partnership with Impresario Handmade Restaurants goes a long way to alleviating the situation.

Deliveries have been the only source of income for restaurants across most of last year and now, through the dreaded second wave. However, partnerships with food aggregator platforms have been fraught with issues related to margins and commissions. Consequently, many restaurants, especially the larger concerns, have gradually been trying to move to a system of direct delivery whereby consumers would order in straight from the restaurant instead of a third-party app or aggregator.

Starting shortly, dabbawalas will service direct delivery orders received on Impresario’s tech platforms for brands such as Smoke House Deli, Salt Water Café and Social. While initially, Lower Parel, Bandra (West) and BKC will see these services roll out, the network will be widened and strengthened across the next few months.  

Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants says, “Mumbai’s dabbawalas are the backbone of the city, and partnering with them to weather the second wave is the best thing we can do for each other. 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. We are then able to pass these savings on to our customers and allow them to benefit from ordering directly. Now, ordering directly is also helping to provide employment to our dabbawalas, who have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic. We need to support each other through these trying times, and this is Impresario’s way of meaningfully extending a helping hand. We’re hopeful that this association will trigger the rest of the hospitality industry to employ them too.”

His sentiments were echoed by Ulhas Muke, President, Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, part of the Mumbai Dabbawala Association: “When the first lockdown hit, it was the toughest time we’ve ever faced; our members were left with little to no money in their bank accounts. Although there are many restaurants and hotel chains in our city, we’ve only catered to office-goers at their workplace in the past. Now that work from home has become the norm, it’s important to go where the customer is. We’re delighted to partner with Impresario Handmade Restaurants to help customers get fresh and delicious food delivered at home. We will provide Impresario and its customers with our unmatched efficiency, trust, and service and we’re sure the people of Mumbai will support us in this endeavour.”

It’s not just Impresario’s brands that will utilise the efficiency of the dabbawalla network though. Starting May 24, the group will also launch a subscription-based meal service in the city. The Ghar Ka Khana subscription meal packages from Social will deliver healthy, home-cooked food across Khar, Vikhroli, Versova and Lower Parel, through dabbawalas.

And as a testament to how much more viable direct ordering is for both restaurants and diners, ordering online from Impresario’s brands Social, Smoke House Deli and Salt Water Café, will allow for a 25 per cent discount along with free delivery.

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