In a telephonic conversation with Restaurant India, Akanksha Rathi, Owner - Cafe Shunya talks about the idea of starting a restaurant built on locally sourced ingredients.
I wanted to start a cafe which uses local produce and Indian ingredients in an innovative way. The food is the normal sandwiches, pizzas and burgers which are transmitted with local ingredients and vegetables. We are doing a salad where we are using amla, star fruits and aloe vera. I am trying to go back to the roots in an innovative way. We are doing jackfruit burger, mixed fruit burgers and the flavours are very international made from local ingredients. It is better for the health, economy and the environment.
My mother is helping me with the investment. I invested around 30 lakh to start this cafe. The response has been good as it’s been now 45 days. We are getting around 10-15 customers on an average in a day.
Trading on local produce
If you understand the value of something available locally, it is beneficial for everybody- consumer, economy band. It is better for the environment as well because you are doing less import. Today, everyone is becoming health conscious especially at urban environment where everyone has 9 to 5 jobs and they have got less time to cook at home. So, there has to be a trend like that. And, as far as trends is concerned it is the future. More people are turning vegetarian, people are today becoming more aware about lactose intolerant or other things and we have all such options in our category of foods. And, I think local ingredients tastes good in local area.
Getting the best ingredients
We source vegetables from Gurgaon. And, other groceries from different parts of India. Pineapple from North east, teas from Himalayas etc. If you look at vendors nobody will give you Tulsi, Aloe vera so we are growing it on our own. We are growing approximately 10 varieties of basil, marua, lemon etc. Right now it’s all are in very experimental way because we do not have a continuous supply. It is very easy to find foreign ingredients then to our own home grown ingredients. I hope there is some awareness created and there is some demand created about local produce so the backend will be sorted.
Design is the key
We have one seating in the cafe which is like sit down seating in which you sit cross legged. We have tried to keep very minimal interiors with black and white wood finish. Our chairs are made of sagwan wood. Or cutlery is made of bamboo and sheesham. We are using bowls that are natural bowls in sheesham wood.
Marketing it right
Right now we are relying on word of mouth because so many people are recommending us. We are not doing any aggressive marketing as of now because we believe word mouth bring long term result.
The biggest challenge is getting the right ingredients as the backend is a complete chaos. Everybody is still relying on international ingredients as there is no consistency for Indian ingredients in the market. We started Cafe Shunya food lab where we will have seasonal dish or drink.