A new breed of entrepreneurs is here to rescue you from bad and boring food on your train journeys via websites that take food orders and deliver cuisines of choice on the go to your station.
Who doesn’t love a train ride? The hustle and bustle of stations, gazing at the scenery flowing past the window, gorging on savouries, and even the thrill of knowing that the train tracks were laid down decades ago – all of this adds to the charm of a journey by train. But there is one glitch in this picture – the quality and hygiene of the food we get inside the train. Have no fear, because a new breed of entrepreneurs is here to rescue you from bad and boring food via websites that take food orders and deliver cuisines of choice on the go to your station. All a passenger has to do is enter the PNR number, station at which the order needs to be delivered and the seat number, and voila, the food will be delivered to your seat. Read on to know more.
Avid travelers – Prakash Binani and Apurba Dubey used to experience the same age old problems of limited choice, stale and cold food on their frequent train rides. Exhausted with the regular struggle of finding fresh and delicious food, the duo laid the founding stone for the Gurgaon based, Rail Darbar in 2013, a company that aims to connect quality restaurants and hotels with millions of hungry train passengers. “We are receiving outstanding response across India. Currently, approximately 30 per cent of our business comes from repeat customers”, said Co-founder, Prakash Binani.
Actively operating at more than 140 stations across India, Rail Darbar offers a wide variety of veg/non-veg thalis, such as North Indian, Gujarati, Jain, South Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mughlai and more with prices ranging from as low as Rs 50 and up to around Rs 250 based on the items ordered and the delivery station.
With an extensive veg/non-veg menu ranging from traditional Indian thalis to more assorted choices in regional, Mughlai, Chinese, Continental, and more, Travel Khana is a good bet. Founder Pushpinder Singh tells us, “Travel Khana was born in 2012 after we saw the huge gap between demand and supply of food for Indian train travellers. There are about 1.5 crore long distance train travellers every day and very few have access to decent food with nearly 300 of the 5000 trains only having pantry cars making substandard, unhygienic food”.
The best part about Travel Khana is the automated platform that tracks trains in real time across India and ensures that fresh food is delivered to the passenger as per their choice in real time. The company delivers 1500-2000 meals a day and is growing at about 20-25 per cent per month.
MeraFoodChoice – the name was chosen because the founder, Piyush Kasliwal believes that all their customers should be able to choose the kind of quality food they wish to eat on their train journey. A software engineer from Nashik, Piyush travelled extensively on the Indian railways and noticed the constraints placed by dietary restrictions on travellers. “Several of these travellers were vegetarian and getting quality vegetarian food from the railway canteens or the railway catering service was nothing short of a challenge. And then there were some trains that didn’t have even a pantry car in the first place, forget variety of food choices. During one such journey, I decided that something needed to change. In that instant, MeraFoodChoice was born”. Today, they are serving more than 500 veg meals in a day and the portal has been winning hearts for their Mini Thalis, Special Thalis and Maharaja Thalis priced at Rs 100, Rs 130 and Rs 180 respectively.
Initiated by the 25-year-old Ambar Arora in 2013, Traveler Food is catering to more than 155 cities across India. Their menu has everything from North Indian to South Indian, Chinese to Italian and more. Popular for their standard veg/non-veg thalis ranging in between Rs 100 to Rs 180, the portal not only helps in customising meals, but also delivers as per your requirement.
“Nowadays, passengers face many problems in food quality while they are traveling, so we offer them a variety of choices at affordable prices. On an average, we book 250 to 300 parcels daily”, said Ambar.
Started by Dinesh Kumar in 2013, Idlivada is a sheer delight for vegetarians. Based out of Tamil Nadu, the portal specialises in pure vegetarian and Jain food. “It was after a very bad travelling experience that my wife and I decided to come up with this portal, so that people no longer have to run from shops to shops searching for hygienic and tasty food”, Dinesh shares.
With a wide menu selection ranging from north Indian, south Indian, Jain thalis, Chinese and more, the portal claims to sell 150 thalis per day, priced between Rs 80 to Rs 240, on an average. Currently, they are operating in more than 170 locations with a strong base in the south.
There are other food portals that are making train journeys better by providing delicious and hygienic food as well. Yatra Chef, Food Rail, Train Khana and many more are doing well in this e-catering business. However, there have been success stories earlier too with Comesum restaurant that operated about 37 outlets at railway stations and serves 80-90 trains. But its reach is limited and that’s why the online model fills the gap.
The blog was first published on TimesCity/What’s Hot