Windsor

In the competitive world of food delivery apps, this Punjabi family is appealing to a niche market

More Canadians are choosing to get their meals delivered to their homes and workplaces through increasingly-popular apps like Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats — but they may not have what everybody is looking for. That's where a Punjabi family from Windsor comes in.

Jatin Sharma's family operates a grocery store — but he also delivers Punjabi food to people's doors

Jatin Sharma's family operates India Food Market in Windsor. Recently, the family decided to take the business in a new direction — delivering authentic Punjabi food to people's homes. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

More Canadians are choosing to get their meals delivered to their homes and workplaces through increasingly-popular apps like Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats — but they may not be able to satisfy every craving.

Instead, a family of grocery store operators in Windsor, Ont. are looking to stand out in the highly-competitive world of food delivery apps by appealing to a niche market.

Jatin Sharma's family runs India Food Market, just south of the city's airport. But two weeks ago, the family decided to take the business in a new direction — offering a subscription-based, tiffin service which delivers Punjabi food right to your door.

"We provide two sabzis and eight chapatis. That's good enough for two meals," said Sharma. "If you're non-vegetarian, we provide two non-vegetarian meals twice a week."

He adds the service is for those who don't have time to cook — but also want to enjoy the experience of eating authentic Indian food.

Shweta Dabholkar, one of 10 people who have signed up for the Sharma family's tiffin service, says the convenience of getting 'authentic' Indian food brought to your door can't be found on popular food delivery apps. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"My parents wake up around five in the morning. By six, they're in the kitchen. They're making everything from scratch," he said.

So far, the tiffin service has about 10 clients, including Shweta Dabholkar who said she signed up because the food is "delicious" and "nutritious." 

"I think it's an excellent service. I've had no complaints. It's on time — delicious food right at my doorstep," she said. "I've been growing up eating this kind of food. It really reminds me of my childhood days."

Niche service operators like Sharma's family can be found throughout the country — but Sylvain Charlebois, whose chief research interest relates to food distribution, said popular food delivery apps like Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats are catching up.

"I think food delivery apps will become more sophisticated and will be more targeted as well," said Charlebois. "You may find apps at some point only offering Indian cuisine and have a list of different restaurants"

He adds the list of eateries found on food delivery apps are "overpowered by American franchise chains that are well-known." Even though a small selection of independent restaurants can be found as well, they don't get all the attention.

I've been growing up eating this kind of food. It really reminds me of my childhood days."​​​​​​- Shweta Dabaholkar

"It's more the well-known brands that we know," said Charlebois.

While Sharma's family is operating its delivery service without an app or website, he believes there is room for his family service to grow.

"It's about the quality. I think of it that way," said Sharma, whose tiffin service operates solely through word-of-mouth and social media advertising — no app.

"If you keep giving good quality food, eventually it will get better."

 

with files from Jacob Barker

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