By bringing back its famed milkshakes in a new avatar, Keventers is showing other brands how to keep up with the times
It’s been an exciting week in the world of hospitality in New Delhi. The city, also the foodie capital in many ways, saw the biggest food awards in India (the Delhi edition) take place a few days ago. Curated by a leading newspaper, the awards are penciled into busy calendars weeks and months in advance and are coveted by every eating establishment with a burner.
I have been invited and have been presenting an award at the function for a good many years now. Interestingly, as other pop-up award shows come in and try and elbow their way into the high-stakes game, these awards continue to surpass them all. Of personal interest to me has always been the changing dynamics of the room on award day. Of course, there are the awardees, but then it’s the changing landscape of the invitees that is the most telling. Back in the day, it was invariably the fashion designer, Delhi’s socially-savvy politician and socialite all squeezed into the room, with an eye on who sat on the MD’s table. Invariably, the room was far more competitive than the nominated restaurants.
As the awards have evolved, this has become a more industry-specific event. In earlier years, the awards and the food biz needed a boost and eyeballs. Invitees brought it that attention, but with the passage of time, the food industry has found and created its own stars. Increasingly, this night has become about people who toil in the industry and that’s always a good thing.
In other news, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has, in its pursuit of ‘Swacch Bharat’, suggested that restaurants and hotels in south Delhi open up their bathrooms to patrons looking to relieve themselves and not dine in. For a small fee (some reports say R5 per use), anybody can use the restrooms and the restaurant can’t turn away these guests. It’s created some uproar—rights of admission, some grumble or, for that matter, security; both not very imaginative stilts to stand on. A person entering the restaurant to eat is as much a security risk, as one looking to use the bathroom. Same rules of access (frisking if in a mall, etc) apply. As for rights to admission, that one has seen its day.
A few weeks ago, I happened to be staying in a five-star hotel and was returning from a day trip out of the city. On arrival at the station (late at night), there was but one auto at hand, which I promptly boarded. On reaching the hotel, we were stopped at the main gate and told that autos were not permitted inside. A little haggling permitted us passage. The lateness of the hour helped, but it’s one of those rules that fall under rights to admission, wherein autos don’t qualify. One doesn’t quite expect them to be parked in the main porch, but they are people-friendly modes of transport! Part of the horror of the loo-for-all scheme is just how will guests get there. In either case, the brains behind this scheme are thrilled that over 3,000 loos have been added to the kitty. Hey, it beats actually doing the work—building public toilets and keeping them clean! There will be mild grumblings, but I don’t anticipate protest marches and, to be fair, most restaurants do permit people to use their bathrooms anyway.
Finally, Delhi has a bit of a retro charm going on these days. Keventers has decided to bring back its famed milkshakes in a new avatar for on-the-go consumers. In glass milk bottles of yore, they have done away with the thick milkshake and brought in the flavoured milk variety. Their traditional strawberry, on the sweet side, is by far the best and most nostalgic. With a savvy social media presence, Keventers is showing other brands (with childhood resonance) how to keep up with the times and it’s doing so with charm. With branches sprouting up every way, from fancy neighbourhoods to the more decidedly middle-class ones, there is always a queue to be found outside their little dispensation window. It’s a winning makeover for this unpretentious, feel-good milkshake company. It’s not quite Shake Shack yet, but who knows?
Advaita Kala is a writer, most recently of the film Kahaani. She is also a former hotelier having worked in restaurants
in India and abroad