For 10 years, the Udupi Idli House in the middle-class suburb of central Mumbai's Matunga has been an early morning meeting place for the locals. Sometimes local corporators, politicians and the odd celebrity from the city's teeming millions drop in to savour the 32 different varieties of idlis and the rich filter coffee the joint serves.
But with the price of pulses skyrocketing, the restaurant was facing a daunting problem, one that might prove sensitive to broach with its loyal customers -- the huge wastage of sambhar, the savoury lentil soup that accompanies most south Indian dishes.
Udupi Idli House decided to implement a policy it already had in place, albeit informally. The restaurant, which serves unlimited chutney and sambhar with its idlis, decided to fine customers Rs 13 for every serving of sambhar or chutney wasted.
"We already had a policy in place — a fine of Rs 8 or Rs 10 — but that was not strictly implemented. We informed our customers when we served them. We put up a poster also. But now daal costs over Rs 100 a kilo. So we decided to go about this seriously," Manager KN Kamat told HuffPost India.
So far, the response has been great, he said. No raised voices, no grumbling and a definite drop in food wastage.
"There are customers who fill their bowls with sambhar four-five times and inevitably never finish their food. We didn't want to raise the price of the menu. Our regulars won't like that. So we decided to fine them for wasting food," he said.
There are notice boards at every table and waiters inform the customers at the serving their orders of the restaurant's policy. Kamat said, even if the prices were to come down, he's not going to reverse the policy, given how well the response to it was.
The restaurant operates between 7 AM and 2:30 PM and 4 PM to 10 PM.
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