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Charity restaurants of Mumbai

Alright, the restaurants talked about in this article are not quite as philanthropic as the title seems to suggest. Yet, it is a great business model where the poor benefit too. Those of you who might have never been to Mumbai, India’s financial capital, there is a possibility that you are unaware of the restaurants in this city which feed the poor and needy, based on the donation or charity they receive on a daily basis.

The New York Times carries this article in its Mumbai Journal, written by Anand Giridharadas:

The world is filled with eating houses of every kind, from hamburger joints to three-star restaurants. There are places you drive through and places where you sit down. But the world may be unfamiliar with a Mumbai variation on the theme: the hunger cafe.

It takes a city like Mumbai, formerly Bombay, frenetic, transactional and compassionate, to erect eateries for the malnourished. They are not soup kitchens, for denizens of this city have little time to serve other people food. In a city that never stops selling stocks and shooting movies, they prefer drive-by benevolence.

In addition to describing the business cum charity model of these restaurants, donors and beneficiaries, the article also talks about the unique ‘latent’ sense of charity that we Indians possess. Essentially, the people who are hungry and in need of food sit outside these ‘hunger cafes’ waiting. Frequently, one or more cars drive by and deposit their ‘tip’ with the restaurant manager. Based on the amount of this tip, the manager invites a certain number of poor hungry souls waiting outside to a full meal.

Personally, I have seen many affluent business class people offering their money here – sometimes out of sympathy, sometimes as a dutiful charity and sometimes to appease one of their Gods. Whatever might be the reason, it is nice to see that hundreds of people go to sleep on a full stomach due to these restaurants and their respective donors.

Read the complete article here.

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