In the past few decades, the traditional dhaba-themed restaurants are picking the pace with a vision to preserve the traditional flavours of the famous North Indian cuisine.
There is a popular saying for dhabas – “The dhaba moves wherever a punjabi goes”. Majorly spotted on the national and state highways, a dhaba is basically a roadside restaurant, which is mostly associated with local and authentic food. Initially frequented by truck drivers (as they travel the most through highways), eating at a dhaba is for everyone and is loved by most. This is because dhabas are not only associated with roadside locations and highways;they now have an urban makeover and are located strategically on the main road, but keep within the tradition of serving local food with it’s aromas and flavours intact, thus ensuring comfort as well as taste at low prices.
In the past few years, traditional dhaba-themed restaurants are also picking up pace with a vision to preserve the traditional flavours of the North Indian cuisine.
From Highways to High Streets
Traditionally, dhabas comprised of a shed-like kitchen where food was cooked with a few tables surrounded by charpayis (for the truck drivers to relax), covering the whole veranda where the food would be served. Today, the setting of a dhaba is slightly different as our own desi dhabas are witnessing urban revamp with people still captivated with the flavours of the food served in the dhaba.
Since past few decades, Murthal, a big village in Sonipat, Haryana, which is located near the NH-1, has gained massive popularity, and that’s just because of the chains of dhabas in the region. As per the sources, a popular dhaba that operates in Murthal serves approximately 8,000-10,000 customers a day. Murthal dhabas being nearer to the Delhi-NCR region enjoys a higher footfall as people can afford to drive to Murthal easily, and it is enroute to a number of destinations while travelling outside Delhi.
Whether it is a simple dal-tadka or the kadhai chicken or just stuffed tandoori paranthas with a lot of white butter, people love to savour the taste of rustic village food that is found in these places. They enjoy the ‘desi-ness’ in the urban setting with the food they have always liked as it gives them an excuse to escape the busy city-life for a few hours. This is what is giving rise to the urban-styled dhabas and their franchises.
Dhaba-themed restaurants are taking the franchising route to establish the new and urbanised dhabas for customers who are willing to spend on the dhaba-styled menu. For instance, Garam Dharam, a dhaba inspired by the veteran Bollywood actor Dharmendra, is a one of its kind, which is an exemplar of a modern dhaba of today’s time. There is also an Indian restaurant at The Claridges, called Dhaba, which is extremely popular, especially to foreigners who love the experience of an authentic North Indian rustic food.Dhabas have marked its presence via franchising in the central places like Cannaught Place and Noida.
With a touch of newness in the concept, the old-fashioned and rustic model of dhaba has been revamped and a share of credit can be given to franchising coming into the picture. As these new dhabas maintain a perfect mix of both the urban and rural setting, some expenses rise from that of the small roadside dhabas, but mostly the taste and the costs of food items remain the centre of attraction. But with the benefits of franchising as a business model, one can ensure maximum profit in a dhaba franchise. As per the sources, the franchise of a modern style dhaba could be started in a range of Rs 45 lakhs (which includes costs of interior-exterior, franchise fee, kitchen equipments, manpower, crockery etc) for an area of about 500-880 sq ft. A dhaba franchise is a lucrative business model and is witnessing a steady demand already.