Tough times call for tough measures

Owner of Sree Agarwal Bhojanwala on the business lessons learnt from the pandemic

“I would have been coughing up ₹50,000 every month if I had to operate from a rented building, which would have surely burnt a hole in my pocket as we are already stressed with ‘no dine-in’ and other restrictions,” says Tulsiddas.

Before the neighbourhood brand became famous for its Rajasthani thali and other North Indian delicacies, Tulsiddas ran a sweet shop. Enquiries by people on where to get good food led him to start his own food joint. He started out in a small way from the terrace of his house doing only parcel service catering to residents of areas found within a three-km radius.

“Today, I am back to doing that but with little more adaptations, particularly technology-based,” he says.

Until the pandemic began, Sree Agarwal Bhojanwala had not signed up with any food aggregators but was forced to register as the lockdown first introduced in March 2020 allowed only takeaways.

“All these years we found our customers by word of mouth and I never felt the need to tie up with any food aggregator, but when only takeaways was allowed we had no choice but to adapt to the demands of the new situation,” he says. Today, a major part of his business comes from Dunzo followed by Zomato.

“Last year was more tough on us than the lockdown called on account of the second wave. We were completely closed for two months and some of our staff even left for their hometown,” he says.

Of the 15 staff that were employed in the outlet, five have moved to their native place. Tulsiddas feels the food business is getting more competitive with more players entering the fray. To survive it is not just enough to serve as per the customer’s needs but think of new ways of diversification. He wants to start another business that does not require much manpower.

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