Product management and Bengaluru Cafe

My favourite restaurant within “normal walking distance” (i.e. a quick dash – not a long walk that I’m fully capable of) of my house is Bengaluru Cafe in Jayanagar 2nd Block. The masaldose there is very very good, right up there with that at CTR (and far less crowded; Vidyarthi Bhavan dose is a different genus).

It’s crisp outside and soft inside, and what I really like about the dose there is the red chutney that they put inside. Spicy and garlicky, and a nice throwback to masaldose in Bangalore in the 1990s (Adigas, for whatever reason, replaced this red chutney with Chutney  puDi, which is far inferior, and now a lot of the new places put Tamil style chutney puDi which is massively overwhelming).

I had discovered the place in mid 2019, while driving back after closing a long client assignment. The dose was absolutely fantastic. We started going there regularly – rather, bringing the dose parcelled from there (since it’s close enough and crowded). It was with this dose that I had my first “unpaternal instinct” – I had got 3 doses (one for each of us), and kept hoping the daughter wouldn’t finish hers so that I could get some of it. As it happened, the then sub-3-year-old fully polished it off.

And  then something changed – I came home to find that there was no red chutney in the dose (which made it significantly suboptimal). And it happened once again. The next time I went I asked about it, and was told that if I want it I need to ask for it.

It is basically the minority rule in action. A large part of the clientele of the Bengaluru Cafe don’t eat garlic, so don’t want the red chutney. Initially the default was to have the chutney, but the number of requests meant the defaults flipped! And that entirely changed the product.

There was a further caveat – if I wanted red chutney in my dose on Sunday I was entirely out of luck. The crowd on Sunday meant that they would not offer any customisations (red chutney became a “customisation”) so that they could mass produce. So I entirely stopped going there on Sundays.

I went there yesterday morning to buy breakfast. It wasn’t crowded so I could stand near the counter watching them make the dose. In the full griddle of 15 doses, only 2 had the red chutney smeared on – the two that I had ordered. Just one small change in the defaults meant that the produce has changed so much!

Bengaluru Cafe was recently featured on a YouTube food channel that we happeened to watch.

If you watch the video till ~3:25 you will find an interesting thing the host says “the difference with their masaldose is that they don’t spread chutney inside it at all!”

Which means the default has changed so much that people don’t even know what used to be the old product!

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a bit stressful – the reason we all love the dose there is because of the red chutney inside. So I know that if I end up bringing dose without the chutney the family will be disappointed. So I need to make sure I stand at the counter to ensure they put the chutney on our doses.

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