Roadside Dhaba Case Study

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  • Topic: Indian cuisine, Punjab region, Punjabi language
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Evolution and Commercialization of Roadside Dhabas
The transformation of Dhabas from family sustaining measure to multi-million industry

Submitted by-
Navdeep Kumar Bhagat (35233)
Harish Katole (35223)

Evolution and commercialisation of Roadside
Dhabas
Dhaba, a word that comes to our mind when we talk about tasty and spicy food. A vast network of roads connects India. It forms the economic backbone of our great nation as passenger and commercial traffic moves along the well laid tarmac tracks.  Like civilizations have evolved over time along the banks of great rivers; along the highways buzzing with traffic activity, dhabas have mushroomed. They have influenced and added a dimension to the socio-economic status and the culture of our society. There were times when dhabas were run in isolation by a single family with a couple of servants on the roadside with nothing but a small shed but still used to be the most sought out stop for the travellers who preferred these dhabas over fancy restaurants. The reason being the tasty food offered at much lower price and a traditional blend suiting the Indian culture. These small family owned dhabas have now evolved into a much fancied business by transforming them into huge cultural parks and functioning banquets with the help of huge investments by diverse businessmen as the business opportunity is flying high as compared to times 30 years back. With making this sector a highly organised one, this Dhaba industry has flourished in leaps and bounds.

Whether we consider Haveli of Jalandhar, Lucky Dhaba of Jalandhar, Haveli of Karnal, Bharawa da Dhaba of Amritsar or Bobby Dhaba of Bangalore all these have earned huge reputation in restaurant industry both in the terms of revenues and in terms of quality preference. All of them started with a small wooden shed and now have transformed into huge entities and are looked upon by travellers in every tourist guide related to India. Their evolution form family sustaining entity to multi-million dollar industry is the purpose of this case study. So this case study is based upon this ever growing evolution of these dhabas.

Why are dhabas so special:-
The first dhabas came into being on the fields and farms that touched the highway. Large chunks of land were levelled by some farsighted farmers who recognised the commercial worth of their properties. Also to mention the fact that the truck drivers in road transportation in Punjab are mostly Punjabis. So during freight carriage between cities or states, dhabas served as heaven for them. 1) One of the main reasons for drivers rushing to dhabas is because of the food quality in terms of spice, oil etc. 2) These roadside dhabas are open 24*7and as truck drivers’ journey can vary in the whole gamut of 24 hours a day, so there is no deadline that the drivers have to follow. 3) Also, not to forget, the open kitchen and open atmosphere that makes us forget all our problems, works as a stress buster for the drivers. 4) The cost as compared to other restaurants is also less. Moreover, you don’t have to follow any rules as how to sit, how to talk so that your presence should not make other people feel awkward. 5) In Punjab, the dhabas are mostly run by the Punjabi community, so there is this brotherhood kind of feeling that attracts every driver to the dhaba. The dhaba owners created basic open kitchens with clay ovens and brass utensils; lanterns for light and hand fans for the summer heat were available as electrical connections were a rarity back then; hand pumps to quench the thirst, wash clothes, trucks and bathe were additional perks that attracted the weary travellers. These open eateries served close to home food with no frills attached. The menus evolved with time. Delicacies and specialties were developed. Add to it, the Punjabi songs playing on FM radio sets up the mood....
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