COVID-19 has had lasting effects at a global level. However, in a country like India, where a large population of people rely on daily wages for their livelihoods, the effects have been far-reaching. This comes through in the plight of Mumbai's dabbawalas. Dressed in their iconic white uniforms and Gandhi hats, they form a complex and efficient service that delivers hot, home-cooked food to people working in offices. What started in the year 1890 as a small-scale food delivery service has today, blossomed into a world-famous network of 5,000 dabbawalas, who use the local trains in Mumbai to pick up and deliver meals to offices. With the service relying heavily on contact, the pandemic has brought the bustling service to a screeching halt.
With local trains being out of bounds and most offices switching to a work-from-home model due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dabbawala service has been impacted massively. In an attempt to help out, Riyaaz Amlani's Impresario Handmade Restaurants has collaborated with them to form a unique partnership that could prove to be mutually beneficial. "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,'' says Amlani.
The hospitality giant is employing several dabbawalas, who will service direct delivery orders received on the company's tech-enabled platforms for brands like SOCIAL, Smoke House Deli and Salt Water Cafe. "Ordering directly from restaurants, instead of through aggregators empowers us to have direct and deeper relationships with our customers, while also helping us save 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 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," he adds.
Additionally, the brand has started a subscription based meal box called Ghar ka khana which will have dabbawalas deliver nutritious food from SOCIAL during the second wave of COVId-19 in India. The subscription will start at INR 6,000+ per month and will be servicing areas like Khar, Vikhroli, Versova, and Lower Parel during the first rollout which will begin from 24th May 2021.
Equipped with a Master’s degree in Journalism, Tarini is forever questioning everything around her. Headstrong and passionate about the art of storytelling, she is up to date with all things travel, food, beauty, and innovation. When she isn’t out reviewing the newest restaurant, you can find her researching the latest skincare trend or curled up with a book and a cuppa in the farthest corner of the room.