Singh Siblings come up with a Double-Decker Dine-in experience for Delhites named Food Bus of India
“Food Bus of India” is a joint venture of Surjit Singh, and the Singh siblings – Arushi Singh and Tejas Singh. First, of its type in India, this food bus is designed with a London-based theme and is inspired by the famous double-deckers of London.
Lawyer turned entrepreneur, Arushi Singh has worked with a reputed law firm and had been practicing in the field of Intellectual Property Rights before venturing out with her startup. Whereas, Tejas Singh is an architect. Their partner, Surjit Singh is a well-known name in the Food and Hospitality Industry and is the Co-founder of Open House Cafe, The Lord of Drinks, Warehouse Cafe, and IMLY.
We had a candid conversation with Ms. Arushi Singh and Mr. Tejas Singh. They told us the backstory and we are thrilled to bring you the Story of the Food Bus of India.
What inspired you?
Arushi: The inspiration was to do something novel… to provide a dining experience which is not only a unique one but also in a hygienic ambiance. Our aim was to provide a better wholesome alternative to street-side food.
The siblings, having traveled around the world, were always fascinated by the hop-on-hop-off buses of the US and London’s double-decker which inspired them to give a spin to the existing food truck culture by bringing to Delhi-ites an eatery within the structure of the double-decker.
The bus is the answer to all those desires of people who always wanted an on-the-go place to sit, eat food in a good and cool environment.
Basically, we are trying to present street food from all over the world and India, with a twist. We have tried to address the challenges a person faces while eating on the street.
What were the things that bothered you in the initial period?
Arushi: We were one of the many businesses that faced the brunt of the pandemic. Accommodating the change in the timeline of our project was one of the biggest hurdles.
Planning and executing the first-of-its-kind double-decker eatery was also a challenge in itself. Tejas being an Architect designed the whole bus from scratch.
Things like choosing the color theme, especially getting the exact red of the bus, and creating a space that makes the customer feel like ‘they are transported to London.’ took a while. Then, to bring the bus from the off-site location to the on-site location was quite a task. But now finally we have completed the execution (grins). All the hard work pays off when we see this structure today…because now it’s a piece of art and there are a lot of emotions attached to it.
How is it ‘happening’ in this covid era?
Arushi: The staff follows a sanitation protocol which includes regular Temperature checks, sanitization of tables, compulsory sanitization of guests as well staff at the entry…(Food) Being prepared by chefs who are well trained and who are taking all safety precautions. So it is obviously better, safer. Also, now as the pandemic is a little under control, majorly people are vaccinated, they are more willing to eat out.
Luckily we have been getting quite a lot of love from the people. Even though this is our first bus, some days people have to wait for their turn to experience it. So, The overall response is quite nice.
What are your plans for Expansion?
Arushi: This is the first one. This is the pilot project, the flagship Bus. After this, We will be coming to Vishwa Vidyalaya, probably by the beginning of November. And the third bus is going to be in Lajpat Nagar. So, we are planning to have this red fascinating bus all over Delhi. By next year, we will come up at other locations dotting the entire city with our red double-decker. Then let’s see we will probably expand to the NCR region, Gurgaon, Noida.
Further, she hoped that, on getting the right response, they are planning to move all around India.
Now, it’s been a month, How are you feeling? And what kind of response are you getting?
Tejas: We’re getting a good feedback from our customers. We are doing a lot of new things. We have to figure them out, we are just working everything out before we expand. That’s the exact mental phase we are in right now.
What are the challenges?
Tejas: Even in the beginning phase getting the structure like this ready was the challenge, getting it placed here was the challenge. Everything has been a challenge. (smiles)
Arushi: Starting anything new and different is in itself I think, a challenge. But we are going about it slowly and gradually. It’s just been a month, so considering that we are happy with the response we are getting. It is a work in progress and we are dealing with each day as it comes.
How do you deal with the preconceived notions people have about food being not fresh and hygienic or the quality is not good?
Tejas: See, there is a lot of people in India. The population is a lot. You can’t possibly change everybody’s mind but telling them something, you have to do it by putting your point out there and showing them something. So, the bus itself evokes the feeling of something new, fresh. Also, the indoor sitting and controlled environment make it relatively easier to maintain hygiene. So, We’re trying to make the bus itself a symbol of a cool, hygienic, indoor place Right on the street where you’d rather be outside. So, we want the red bus to become a symbol for that.
Arushi: It’ll become a brand, a symbol that instead of eating outside, you come and eat inside the bus in a good environment…We have a base kitchen from where we operate and we have a small pantry here also. So everything is prepared from scratch. It’s not that anything is procured from outside. And we have brilliant qualified chefs who are taking care of everything. So quality is top-notch. The food is yummy. And the menu is multi-cuisine catering to every palette.
Telling about the incidents, when people come and think that they will have to order and eat outside or takeaway, She shared with us that they have a very motivated and inviting staff which makes them comfortable on the first floor of the double-decker. “But we do also have take-away and we have deliveries also.
Where do you see your venture in the next five years?
Arushi: We have worked so hard on it, that we are keeping our fingers crossed and hope to see our venture expand and grow. Our plan is to establish it as a brand with a unique identity in the food industry.
“That’s how it’s gonna be, It is FBI and it’s everywhere, so that is our dream.”
Tejas: “Five years are too much…Aaj ki date mein kya hi Dekha hai (What can be expected in
these unprecedented times).” We have our fingers crossed.
Talking about their competitors, Arushi says that “Our locations are our USP. So in addition to passers-by, we also have the crowd of the metro. Second is the physical experience of the bus which puts you in a jolly mood. Affordable prices in a good environment with food that people can relate to.”
Why a bus?
Tejas: The Double Decker bus used to be an experience in Delhi till mid-80s, which has not been experienced by our generation. Also, it was one of the solutions to certain issues that we identified in the beginning regarding why major restaurants were not able to sustain their business models. High rentals mixed with a huge initial investment were the main culprits. The bus model because it’s on wheels and it’s a double-decker. It overcomes those issues because one can freely move it around to new spots and it comes with the flexibility of food trucks.
Arushi: If you rent out a place somewhere else which is like a permanent sort of setup then you have a lot of problems when you just leave and pack up…
Both together say, “Overheads zyaada ho jaata hai” (overheads increase). So this is like a structure that can be moved to any other place also.
Tejas: So, that was the first thing that came to our mind, that we should be just able to move it around, and then…
Arushi: Without having to cut down or break it down. Or you just have to move out of a place. You can carry the place to any other place.
Tejas told us that, that is how the idea of double-decker came up. Where the ground floor can have a kitchen and the second one can be used for sitting. Confirming to what, Arushi says, if you want a sitting… then you obviously need two floors to be able to manage that.
What are the lessons that you can share with aspiring entrepreneurs?
Arushi: Be ready to face a-lot of challenges. Be patient and stay true to your dream. Just stick to what you have in mind. If you make that dream your daily goal take things step by step, then you will succeed.
The Food Bus of India started in September 2021 on the auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi. It serves the fusion of street food from various countries such as Italy and London. (And they serve the best Cold Coffee in the town)
They are giving us “Dilli mein London wala maza”. The bus has a quote that says “From Capital of the World to the capital of India”. And it really serves the motive, the design and color theme of the bus justifies the quote. The ambiance once you hop on into the bus, it really reminds you of London.