The third and newest delivery brand from Hunger Inc kicks off with a rotating section on its menu. First in focus, the Pita Shack, is inspired by the Goan adoption of Lebanese cuisine.
With lockdowns imposed across the country and reopening hinging on vaccine rollout, restaurant industry players are increasingly diversifying into delivery services. Hunger Inc, the group behind brands such as The Bombay Canteen, O Pedro and The Bombay Sweet Shop, has launched its third delivery brand—O Pedro’s Shack.
After tapping into Indian Chinese cuisine with King Fu Canteen and opening up dessert delivery with Brun & Babka, the group has further optimised resource utilisation to roll out another new menu. This concept though, as Yash Bhanage, Founder and COO, Hunger Inc, explains, is slightly different.
“Obviously, we have the expertise and infrastructure to create new menus but we wanted to do something different with this new brand. We’ve been living through the pandemic for over a year now, and most diners who are ordering in meals want some variety when it comes to menu options. So, we decided to offer up a rotating menu with O Pedro’s Shack, which not only keeps offerings fresh, but also helps us understand what the patron wants,” says Bhanage.
The inspiration for the pita shack, which is currently the focus of the O Pedro’s Shack section, comes from a hidden gem in Goa. Bhanage recalls, “One of my favourite places to eat at in Goa was a shawarma cart in Mapusa market. It might not have been the most authentic but it was delicious and simple. And that’s precisely what we felt would connect with people.”
Although the group has been rather quick to launch these delivery brands, there are several factors involved when it comes to deciding on the menu. “Indian restaurants usually have very large variety on their menus. But with that, you run the risk of sacrificing freshness. So, we decided to pare down the offerings and go with a mix that allows for the freshest ingredients and consequently, quality. Nowadays, consumers are a lot more aware of what goes into their food and there has been marked shift towards fresh, organic and healthy ingredients. Aside from these, of course, there are the usual concerns such as how much of the menu would be vegetarian and how much would consist of proteins or meats. For instance, for O Pedro, which caters mostly to Bandra, Khar, Juhu, Powai, has 55 per cent meat on the menu, whereas Bombay Canteen, which is in Lower Parel, has 60 per cent vegetarian offerings because of the catchment area demographics.”
O Pedro’s delivery menu currently has the Pita Shack section alongside other options such as artisanal butters, spices, vinegar and DIY Poee making kits, among others.
This writer sampled some of the signature items off the Pita Shack menu. There was a Spicy Pumpkin Hummus with pita, a Cubano pita sandwich, a Lebanese Seafood Rice bowl, along with sides such as pickled vegetables, tahini and green hot sauce. To wash it all down, were two house-special spritzers.
The pita came with instructions on reheating and came out of the microwave just right. The hummus struck a great balance with its creamy consistency paired perfectly with the crunch of pumpkin seeds. The Cubano pita sandwich was stuffed with juicy pork, a familiar and trademark O Pedro touch. The spicy seafood rice was intriguing for its variety of textures and provided the best connect to the sunny climes of Goa. The various tahini dips, green hot sauce and pickled veggies paired great with both the pita and the sandwich. And while the Baklava Soda was quite refreshing and provided a much-needed sugar hit after the spicy meal, it was the Lebanese Kanji Soda that made a mark with its unique flavours.
The three dishes that left the best impressions were the Cubano Pita Sandwich, the Lebanese Seafood Rice and the Lebanese Kanji Soda. The sandwich works great as a comfort snack option, while the rice is perfect for times you want a dose of spice and a mild food coma. The soda is a refreshing change from the sugar-stuffed fizzies most of us are used to.
O Pedro’s Pita Shack will be on offer for a couple of months before a refresh. The possible options that come next will be influenced by some of the other international cuisines adopted by the sunshine state. “Goa is a truly international destination now. There are people from all over the world, and hence a huge variety in terms of cuisine. And many of these cuisines have been received rather eagerly by Indian diners. So, we’ll possibly look at exploring more of these.”
Connecting with consumers is a fairly important part of the business as well and outreach campaigns on social media garner important feedback on the kind of offerings diners would like to see. This also fits in with the group’s plans when it comes to future of the O Pedro’s Shack brand. “While a full-fledged restaurant is unlikely, a sandwich outlet is very much a possibility. I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses about Pita Shack because the offerings are quite unique.”
With delivery brands clearly an important part of the restaurant industry in the current scenario, we’re likely to see more and more such initiatives going ahead. Logistics and economic feasibility are still a concern, but this situation is likely to change as the business evolves. For consumers, it means more options and hopefully, for the industry, it represents a new direction to grow in.
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