The siblings fill tiffin carriers with gourmet lunches
Glenard Alves was fresh out of college, his sister Gynelle’s day job continues to be design and illustration and Genesia has been a journalist.
One evening, when Glenard’s brother-in-law opened up the dinner that Glenard and his mother had packed for him to take home, he told his wife Genesia, “These guys should really get into the food business.”
So the Alves siblings (Glenard and sisters Gynelle and Genesia) of Bandra, Mumbai, did. Their gourmet lunch catering, Love Lunch, is low-key, super-exclusive—and the hippest lunch service in town.
The lunch run: Glenard Alves shops, cooks and packs gourmet dabbas from his home kitchen Photo Courtesy Hill Road Media
Once they started thinking about a gourmet lunch run, things seemed to simply fall into place. The family’s ancestral bungalow has a suitable kitchen, which Genesia says is “lean and simply structured”. Glenard and Gynelle had been cooking together since they were 7. Between them, the siblings could handle everything: preparation, cooking and packing.
The Alveses are a large family. Genesia says that over the years, their mother had accumulated enough kitchen equipment to power the whole enterprise.
“We sent out invitation-to-trial emails,” Genesia remembers. “Word spread. We got more customers. We would send out the menus and then wait nervously for people to write in. Then we would make notes for the future. We still do.”
Their initial investment was no more than the price of the dabbas themselves, and the ingredients, which Glenard sources every day from Bandra markets. Thanks to “galloping inflation” tough, prices have risen every year. Today, for Rs 265 per dabba and additional dabbawalla charges, Love Lunch tries to send out “the perfect plate”—1/4 carbs, 1/4 protein and plenty of vegetables. New dishes are balanced with crowd favourites to make sure no menu appears more than once a month. Glenard and Gynelle have stopped fixing vegetarian-only dabbas: It limits their repertoire (and inevitably, entangled them in a food fuss about who couldn’t or wouldn’t eat eggplant or tofu or mushroom and so on).
They are, Genesia says, a “take-it-as-it-comes” sort of outfit; no one wondered what they would do if Love Lunch didn’t work out, but they did set limits to their experimentation. “We said that in one month if we had less than 20 customers we’d stop,” she says.
These days, if you want a Love Lunch delivery, you have to get on a waiting list that will take at least a month to get to your name. “We won’t tell you how many dabbas we send out,” Genesia demurs. “It’s probably fewer than you think.”
“We’ve always wanted to stay ‘boutique’: have an intimate relationship with a bunch of loyal customers who appreciate the service and whose feedback we trust,” says Genesia.