Hannaan Jatu is a 34-year-old resident of Mumbai. Apart from working in his family-run business that provides waterproofing solutions to households, he is also very passionate about cooking.
“I have enjoyed cooking since my childhood. It started with helping my mother and soon led to preparing dishes and desserts by referring to cookbooks. During the lockdown, my children and other family members would discuss how much they missed eating out. This prompted me to replicate dishes we would order at our favourite restaurants. It included various north Indian style dishes, burgers, and more,” says Hannan adding that he not only cooked for his family but also served his neighbours.
The common feedback he received from them was to start a restaurant because the dishes would taste exactly like the ones from their favourite restaurants.
Becoming a home chef
Early in September, Hannaan decided to utilize the free time he had over weekends, and launched – Eat Love Repeat, a food delivery business.
He says, “Before launching the service, first, I honed my skills. It started with mastering dishes I was already familiar with and then mastering new recipes. To practise new recipes, I referred to several cookbooks and videos online. If some ingredients were unavailable in the kitchen, I would improvise and make my version of it. I served this to both my family and friends living nearby and received constructive feedback.”
Once Hannaan was confident about what he was cooking, a menu was curated with 100 dishes he could offer to customers.
Today, Hannaan works in his family-run business from Monday to Friday and works as a chef over the weekend.
Here’s how you can do the same too –
Step 1: Master your dishes
This is key to starting any business related to food. Hannaan says a customer would never order the second time if they do not like what they eat. So, it is important to stick with dishes you are familiar with but also experiment with new dishes.
“I added the new dishes like Kunafa and burgers to my menu only after I perfected the techniques and taste. To do that, I practised the recipe three to four times.”
Step 2: Curate a menu
While it is important to have a variety of dishes, Hannaan did not want to overwork himself by making all of them at the same time. So, he kept a list of 100 dishes he could make but would offer only five or six varieties every weekend.
He says, “The menu would be different every weekend and all the dishes would compliment each other. For example, if I am serving burgers one weekend, I would not pair it with Gulab jamun for dessert. Instead, I would prepare cookie-dough brownies or fudge brownies.”
Step 3: Pick a business name and create a virtual presence
After brainstorming with family and friends, Hannaan picked a name for his service – Eat Love Repeat (ELR) – and created a page on Instagram where he could attract new customers, and collect orders from the same.
“On the Instagram page, I engaged users by sharing teasers about the dishes I would serve, and even requested friends and family to spread the word through Whatsapp groups. With the help of my uncle, who is a designer I got the logo designed and even printed some stickers for the deliveries,” says Hannaan.
Step 4: Decide a business strategy and price the dishes
Since Hannaan was cooking the dishes single-handedly, he ensured not to offer too many dishes at the same time. He wanted to spend his weekdays focussing on his primary job, so decided to offer deliveries only over the weekend.
“My strategy was to announce the dishes for that week on a Tuesday so that people can place their orders beforehand. This gave me time to purchase the necessary ingredients, packaging material, and avoid wastage of food. Apart from that, I would offer only 3 to five varieties per week,” says Hannaan adding that the dishes are priced based on the products purchased to make and pack them.
Step 5: Deciding the delivery method
With the help of Swiggy Genie, Dunzo and other locally available services Hannaan would deliver the food to his customers. The delivery charge varies depending on the location and is paid by the customer.
“The food is packed into microwavable containers that are approved by the state government. These are the kinds used among popular restaurants that deliver food as consumers can reheat the dish before consumption. Apart from that, the boxes are of good quality, and can be reused at home. During delivery, I place my business sticker on top to create brand awareness.”
Initially, Hannan purchased 100 boxes of three sizes each- two for the main dishes and desserts (Rs 8 and Rs 7) and one for serving sauces/dips (Rs 4). He suggests purchasing them in bulk as the price is lower and increasing the quantity depending on the orders you receive.
Finally, Hannaan says that it is important to be confident about what you are making and to be patient because no business would be a hit right at the beginning.
“Initially, I received only a few orders but over time, it has started to improve and I am receiving at least 10 orders every weekend,” says Hannaan adding that he does not make big profits but breaks even with the cost of raw materials and packaging.
If you are in Mumbai, you can place an order too. Follow him on Instagram to know more about what he is serving every week.
To know more about how you can start a home delivery business you can reach him over email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)