Malleshwaram 4th cross.
There is always a rush near a small window. People come here for lemon tea. Quite popular for its big mall and exquisite eateries, the area gets a proper bracket when it comes to this shop. No name or banner, this small lemon tea shop is a runaway hit.
Gutthalli, Jhatka stand.
There is a small outlet which sees numerous people especially during lunch hours. It serves mainly non-vegetarian delicacies of Karnataka and is one of the most visited by nearby people. No name or banner, this small non-vegetarian shop is known to anybody who touches the area.
Rajiv Gandhi Road in Jaraganahalli.
The aroma of Bajji, Bonda, Kodbale and Chakkali beguiles the passerby. Vishweshwar Bhat and his wife are running this business for past 45 years.
No Name or banner.
"We prepare Kodbale and Chakkali in the morning. We pack it and sell it to shops in the vicinity. In the evening we prepare Bajji and Bonda," said Vishweshwar.
The idea of having such small shops, right from a tea shop to one which sells biryani and murg masalam, was born out of necessity and a passion.
“We did not have the money, but we had the recipe. We had many issues starting this small shack, but then the popularity grew and it became a landmark. The license issue is always there but then the popularity of our food makes it easier. It is not that we are doing anything unethical or socially frowned. We sell good, hygienic food at cheap rate,” said Ramiah, who runs a biryani shop at Municipality.
Without any branding and license these shops have been running for many years.
Some as old as 35 years.
Forty-year-old Madhav Murthy prepares trays of crunchy gobi manchurian for his customers and he never fails to make small talk and keep them entertained throughout.
Stir frying rice noodles in a huge wok; he then skillfully tosses them with fresh vegetables, herbs and a spicy sauce. His food cart is situated in a small alley that leads to the main streets of Adugodi. On weekends, hordes of people throng his thela to get their regular dose of Chinese street food. Having satisfied customers on the streets for more than 35 years, Murthy patiently explains the importance of selling good street food and what it means to the younger generation today.
“Street food is a culture that we are all accustomed to in this country. It doesn’t require any sort of marketing or branding. I have had this thela (cart) for more than 25 years. I have a set of loyal customers both old and young who will always come to me no matter what,” said Murthy as he prepares a fresh batch of fried rice for a customer.
Clad in a bright sari, colourful bangles and her trademark bind, Jayamma Devi who runs a roadside dosa cart in Wilson Garden is seen adding a huge dollop of butter on onion dosa. Being shy and soft-spoken, Jayamma doesn’t really have to mingle with any of her customers for her food does all the talking.
On a chilly night, if you happen to stroll by her dosa cart, you will notice pin drop silence as people from all walks of life are seen devouring her dosas soaked in spicy coconut chutney.
“I prepare three dosas – plain, onion and egg. The plain dosa is a hot favourite among people as I use butter to prepare it instead of oil,” said Jayamma with a smile.
What keeps these small shops running without branding has been established. It is purely out of taste and affordability.
According to Akshar Yadav who represents a popular advertising agency in the city, the branding exercise is cost intensive and balancing budget and the immediate requirement can be done with minimum investment for products which have less life.
“This stands true with food because people do not bargain much if there is quality when their money spent is less. It is even more important to note that such businesses make money without any hype nor advertising and the returns are satisfactory.”
Hygiene: According to Murthy, who runs a Chinese thela, most of the thelas or chaat walas maintain unhygienic conditions which could lead to severe health issues. He also believes that one needs to understand the importance of cleanliness especially at a food stall.
“Some of these thela walas don’t bother using clean water to wash the utensils. Since this has become a major issue, I serve my customers in disposable plates and bowls. That way, I don’t have to worry about people complaining about the hygiene standards here,” said Murthy.