The hospitality industry has been worst hit by the coronavirus lockdowns but one pub is fighting back creating a new brand of ‘personalised’ takeaway food.
Indugle is the brainchild of Jaimin Shukla with partners Raj Shukla and Neal Rehki owner of The Railway Telegraph pub in Thornton Heath and close family friend.
The mouth watering menu has been developed by economics graduate Jaimin, 26, who on leaving university after a short spell in the city in banking went in to the family business.
The menu provides a range of pizzas, chicken wings, jerk and burgers at affordable prices but with an emphasis on quality and healthy food but with a ‘twang’
Jaimin learned how to cook from scratch working in the kitchens of The Crown and Pepper in Croydon, owned by his father Raj which has been serving up Indian and Chinese cuisine in a traditional British pub setting for the last 13 years..
Friends Neal and Raj who both grew up in Thornton Heath went in to business last year on a new venture serving up quality Indian cuisine in The Railway on Brigstock Road.
Before the pandemic they had been planning to launch the takeaway service using dark kitchens to prepare the food but Covid accelerated the roll out.
From today (Monday December 21) the Indulge menu is available on Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eats.
The menu offers a huge variety of selections allowing you to build your own dishes with a choice of spicy sauces and different side orders.
Indulge is ideal for a family meal in, explains Jaimen: “When you place a takeaway order, the burger box will come with an Indulge sticker on with your name on it.
“We’ve tried to personalise everything from your choice of meat to buns and sauces.
“Everything is customised to exactly what the customer wants. Say you are home with your family and your husband might want a pizza, the children chicken wings and you might want a burger. You can have that all with Indulge. We are providing a one stop experience. No one else is doing that.”
Pizzas come in a choice of gluten free bases and there is a Vegan cheese alternative. There are also lots of flavour options, from traditional meaty dishes with an Indian twist such as the Bombay Bad Boy which is topped with spicy Lamb Kheema, or for the vegetarian a Paneer Tikka special pizza.
The dishes all come with a range of salads and sauces many from secret recipes and all are homemade. Side orders include humous, guacamole and a range of cheeses from Monterrey Jack to Mexican spicy.
The burger menu is extensive including: Beef, Lamb, Tandoori Chicken, Fish and Angus Beef. There is also a burger choice for vegetarians and vegans with plant based and Paneer burgers.
Normally a burger just comes in a bun but the Indulge burgers are served up in a variety of buns including: brioche, skinny, pretzel, sourdough, gluten free, or no bun.
The Charcoal, which is gluten free and vegetarian, presents a great photo opportunity (see picture).
With the pizzas you can build your own and there is a selection of nine different ‘sexy’ fries side orders of: sweet potato, halloumi, cheesy, garlic parmesan, chili cheese, peri-peri, salt and peeper and the pièce de résistance truffle parmesan.
For fans of chicken wings be prepared to be impressed with a range of sauces, coatings and glazes. You can pick the number of wings from four, eight, 12 to 20 and select from flavours from: Korean BBQ glaze to the home made Bang Bang sauce which is only for the brave and almighty!
Before Covid nearly one in three pubs in Croydon had closed in the last 10 years – leaving about 90 pubs and bars in the borough.
Since the pandemic many more pubs have closed and others haven’t been able to reopen. The Railway is the only boozer in the immediate vicinity to have reopened and is adhering to strict Covid-19 guidance on social distanced tables, temperature tests, hygiene and taking customers names for track and trace.
If a pub is in Tier 2 which London was the landlord can only serve alcohol alongside food.
Neal says that Indulge has been the saving of the pub: “We are in the middle of pandemic so we either had to curl up or we take it on and we are taking it on,” he said.
Over the past two weeks Indulge has been operating out of the Railway Telegraph kitchen with pub customers being used as the lucky ‘guinea pigs’ to try out the menu and the feed back has been overwhelmingly positive.
Jaimin said: “The original intention for the business was to be a dark kitchen. There are so may pubs out there that don’t use their kitchens or if they do offer a very limited range of food so we were going to start here at The Railway as a base. Once we were established in six months or a year’s time and we knew our menu is solid and what our suppliers are we would develop another kitchen and another kitchen. However, due to the new rules and regulations everything got fast tracked.”
Jaimin and Neal brought in two experienced chefs Sandeep Bhullar and Krsna Patel to ensure the food is top notch. Krsna would normally be serving up Asian street food at the Berwick Street market in Soho but that has closed due to the pandemic and so he can concentrate on Indulge instead.
Neal explained: “Indulge only came in to place so quickly because of Tier 2. We weren’t ready to launch this until January but we rushed it forward literally to get this pub operating and thought this would be a great guinea pig. The rules are unfair to hospitality. We don’t want to break the rules with a scotch egg and we have so many eyes on us so we had to do it in a proper manner.
“It’s still cheaper for me to stay closed because we are paying for three chefs in the kitchen and extra staff but I wanted to give something back to the community. A lot of people needed the pub to open for their mental wellbeing so I am glad I did it.”
Indulge is in negotiations with five public houses to use empty or unused pub kitchens to not only expand the business but to give support to struggling pubs.
Neal added: “We have plans to open 15-20 of these and that plan is still open. We are still hoping by mid July, to have 20 outlets and possibly three retail faces like this (The Railway).”
As London entered Tier 3 The Railway Telegraph shut its doors to customers for the third time and instead is doing take outs for Indulge via collection and deliveries.
A jerk chicken range prepared by the pub’s famous BBQ chef Solider, who has been cooking jerk from the pub six days a week for over seven years is soon to be added to the menu.
He has a strong base of regulars and his food is so popular – Neal describes it as the ‘best jerk in Thornton Heath’ – that people come from as far as Birmingham and Northampton to sample it.
The takeaway menu will also include milkshakes.
Telephone 020 8684 9839
On Facebook @BespokeIndulge
THIS WAS FIRST PRINTED AS AN ADVERTISING FEATURE IN THE DECEMBER EDITION OF THE CHRONICLE