Coronavirus Pandemic

India Covid crisis: Mumbai's dabbawalas turn delivery partners for restaurants

Web Report/Mumbai
Filed on June 1, 2021
File photo

The tiffin delivery men are also setting up a central kitchen.

Desperation is writ large on the face of Mumbai’s famed ‘dabbawallas’ who for more than a century have been catering to hundreds of thousands of officegoers and factory workers by ferrying lunch from their homes to the workplace in the famous ‘dabbas’. But the Covid pandemic brought an end to it.

However, the dabbawallas – there are more than 5,000 of them in Mumbai – are not one to take things lying down. They have started partnering restaurants and others in the business and are confident of catering to the needs of thousands of people who still look forward to home meals while at work.

Restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani, who owns Impresario Handmade Restaurants, last month announced a collaboration with them. About 30 dabbawallas from Mumbai will ensure between 600 and 1,000 deliveries daily from its restaurants in commercial hubs including the Bandra-Kurla complex.

“Dabbawalas are the original backbone of Mumbai’s food delivery system,” Amlani told the media. “The food industry has now come together with the dabbawalas to form a symbiotic partnership to empower and enable each other over the next few months. The association will roll out more phases over the next few months, each employing more dabbawalas.”

The tiffin delivery men are also setting up a central kitchen. Ritesh Shantaram Andre, spokesperson of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust, said work to set up the central kitchen is in full swing. Dabbawalas will not only deliver food but also take orders and prepare them.

Though Mumbai’s suburban services, which was patronised by the dabbawalas for decades, is now not accessible for them, they are known to be avid cyclists and will continue pedalling their way to offices.

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