Pune: On the very first day that it began its take-out and delivery operation, hotel Vaishali on Ferguson College Road, a restaurant loved and frequented by many in Pune, received an overwhelming response from the customers.
People waited in a queue patiently for the restaurant to resume its services and took home their favourite dishes from the menu. Their signature dishes, Sev Puri Dahi Puri, famously known as SPDP, and Mysore masala dosa, however, are off the menu at the moment, as the chefs cooking these are out of Pune.
“We had not anticipated this kind of response," Vaishali's owner Jagannath Shetty told Sakal Times.
"We said we would start on Monday, but it took time to acquire all the raw material and make necessary arrangements, so we started on Tuesday morning," he said.
While the take-out service began in the morning, the delivery service started in the afternoon. The customers were so many that the chefs had to prepare everything for the second time, when the first lot got over.
“Most of them were our regular customers who have been visiting us for years. In fact, we were getting calls from such customers when we were completely shut, requesting us to at least start the delivery services. They missed our food. Or I think that they were fed up with cooking on their own all the time,” Shetty said.
While many people went to the restaurant for getting their favourite food packed, several took it to social media to express their happiness over the reopening of Pune’s favourite restaurant.
What's on menu?
However, since they are presently operating with just about 10 per cent staff, the restaurant has shortened its menu card, and is offering just a few signature items.
“Most of our staffers have left the city, and now they are unable to return even if they want to. We are going to manage with whoever is available until the rest of them are back. Family members are also contributing,” Shetty said.
Idli, medu wada and other items served with Sambhar are in demand, as us Upeet (upma) and sabudana wada, Shetty said.
Located on the bustling FC Road in the heart of the city, Vaishali is a very popular hangout spot, among young as well as old. It’s particularly very popular for its tea and coffee.
“People have also been asking us to start selling tea and coffee, but we fear that might lead to people standing around on the footpath outside the restaurant, which would not be safe in the given circumstances. So we are presently limiting ourselves to the delivery and takeout of the limited food items only,” Shetty explained.
Dilip Kulkarni, who retired as an engineering consultant last year, comes all the way from Mumbai at least once a month to meet his friends in Pune. And meeting at Vaishali is mandatory.
"I am glad the restaurant opened their services partially. My friends there will be able to enjoy it. They said the markings made outside the restaurant is to ensure social distancing. I envy them, but as soon as the situation in Pune and Mumbai improves, I will come to Pune for my favourite South Indian food here," he said.