28 November, 2020

The Thali Is Empty

Yet another Bombay institution, the Udipi restaurant, faces demise. No more Mysore Masala?

Dinesh Parab
The Thali Is Empty
Last Orders...

Udipi restaurants, world famous for their affordable veggie fare, especially the 'rice thali', draw inspiration from the coastal Karnataka temple town of Udupi. They are slowly going out of fashion. Over 200 have closed in the past two years, and business is down 50-70 per cent. The reasons:
  • Rising rents, overheads, VAT
  • Staff shortages. Fewer migrants to Mumbai from Karnataka because job opportunities are better at home.
  • Changing tastes. Many customers now prefer the A/C fast-food joints.
  • Original clientele in south Bombay, tempted by rising real-estate prices, has moved to the suburbs
  • Bank automation, online trading facilities means the client base in the business district has shrunk


It was towards the end of World War I that Rama Nayak, age 11, left his village in coastal Karnataka for Bombay looking for work, much like the thousands of migrant workers before him—and thousands after....


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