#17: One kitchen, hundreds of internet restaurants
Since the pandemic began, there has been a boom in the number of cloud kitchens in the country. A lot of the restaurants I see on Swiggy and Zomato nowadays are cloud kitchens. They can even run multiple restaurant brands on food ordering platforms from the same kitchen.
For instance, Rebel Foods, a cloud kitchen company, owns and operates 11 different cloud kitchen brands like Faasos, Behrouz Biryani, Oven Story, etc. All from a single location.
But there are a few cloud kitchen restaurants that deliver food that is so shit that I want to know which other brands are being run from the same kitchen so that I can avoid them all. This information is not visible on either Swiggy or Zomato.
One way to do this is by checking the restaurant’s FSSAI license no. It is listed at the bottom of the restaurant menu listing on both Swiggy and Zomato. If it is the same for different restaurants, the food comes from the same kitchen.
It is not practical though to check all the restaurant listings manually and find out which ones and how many of them are operating from the same kitchen. I needed a way to find all of them.
So I searched and found a couple of Bangalore restaurant datasets for Swiggy and Zomato on Kaggle. I then wrote a small script to get the FSSAI license no. and the lat/long of each of these restaurants. Both publicly available information.
I was doing this to find and avoid restaurant brands that I do not like on Swiggy and Zomato. But while analyzing the FSSAI license data of these restaurants, I found something very, very weird.
Check this line chart of no. of restaurant brands that share the same FSSAI license no. on Swiggy.
Hmm, one of them here is not like the others. What is up with FSSAI license no. 21220188001393? This FSSAI license has 189 (and possibly more) different restaurant listings on Swiggy. What’s going on here?
All of these restaurants have the same or a slight variation of this address listed on Swiggy.
NO 55/1, SHIRIDI SAI LAYOUT, NEAR SAI BABA TEMPLE ROAD, MUNEKOLALU MARATHALLI , Mahadevapura , B.B.M.P East, Karnataka-560037
1 cloud kitchen. 1 location. 189 different restaurant brands on Swiggy.
I looked at the names of all the restaurants on Swiggy registered with this FSSAI license.
At the time of writing this, all of them are active. You can search and find every one of them on Swiggy.
Notice how some of these restaurants have names that sound similar or identical to other popular restaurants? This may dupe the customer by appearing on top of the search results if the original restaurant is unavailable for delivery at that location. I also noticed that most of these restaurants are available for delivery round the clock or till as late as 6 am.
Also, you must’ve spotted a few duplicates in these names. For example, “Taste of China” and “TASTE OF CHINA”. It is not a mistake, both are active as separate listings on Swiggy. Check Here and HERE.
Interestingly, both have different menus and pictures even though it is the same name and kitchen. (How is Swiggy allowing this!)
I searched for license number 21220188001393 on FSSAI’s website and found that it is registered to Ramjani Khan.
I looked up the Lat/Long for this cloud kitchen on Google Maps, and here is a satellite image of this location from Dec 2021.
This is the place running hundreds of restaurants on Swiggy.
I performed this same exercise on the Zomato dataset too and found this same FSSAI license has 127 restaurants listed on Zomato (from the data available in the Kaggle dataset, there are possibly more!).
But wait, from the Zomato dataset, I found another FSSAI license (21220010000445) for a different location in Bangalore that is running 161 different restaurants on Zomato. Do we have another guy carrying out the same hustle with the same M.O.?
This is the address (or a variation of it) listed for all these restaurants on Zomato:
103/77, Srinivas Reddy Building, Near Infosys Gate 6, Electronic City, Bangalore
This is the satellite image of this cloud kitchen from Google maps (Jan 2022)
I ran a FSSAI license search for this license too.
Hang on, it is the same guy! Ramjani Khan owns both these cloud kitchens!!!
I later searched on Swiggy, and all these restaurants from this FSSAI license were available on Swiggy too. The Kaggle dataset I used didn’t have these listings so it wasn’t flagged during the Swiggy analysis.
Both these cloud kitchens run about 200 brands each. You have an option to select either of the locations when you visit any of their restaurant brands on Swiggy/Zomato.
So let me get this straight. One person/entity is running 400 different restaurant listings on Swiggy and Zomato from two tiny kitchens? Doesn’t sound ridiculous at all.
I don’t know if this is legal or not? Check this FAQ from the FSSAI website. This was the first question in there.
There is no mention of the limit on the no. of brands that can operate from one location under the same FSSAI license in the whole document.
Whether it is legal or not, it doesn’t feel right. How can two dingy and drab kitchens run 200 different brands on Swiggy and Zomato? I am dumbfounded by how easy it is to do this. I mean, this guy put in zero effort in naming his restaurant brands – many of them are the same names with different letter cases.
Shouldn’t there be stricter checks around how restaurants get onboarded on these platforms? What’s stopping other cloud kitchens to use the same strategy to spam these food delivery apps?
Also, it’s not even like any of these restaurants have unique cuisines or food preparations to merit so many different brands. It is literally the same food with the same 2-3 cuisines. All of them do have different photos and menu structures though. Is that all it takes to spam these platforms with hundreds of fake restaurant brands?
I feel like there should be clearer visibility on Swiggy/Zomato about how many and which restaurant brands are operating from the same location, along with a picture of the kitchen, to allow us to make a more informed decision before ordering.
All the restaurants registered under these two FSSAI licenses are very poorly rated and reviewed on both Swiggy and Zomato. None of them is rated higher than 4.
Here is a list of their Zomato ratings with min 100 reviews. See how many of them are knock-offs of other popular restaurants. Looks like a case of people mistakenly ordering from these restaurants because of their names.
Most of these restaurants operate 24x7, so sometimes very late at night, they are the only available restaurants – spamming the entire listings page.
I searched for these two FSSAI license nos. to see if I could find any more information. One guy tweeted this to Zomato but I guess they didn’t do anything about it. All these restaurants still exist on Zomato.
Look, I order food online a lot, maybe more than I should. And some cloud kitchens here are great, they deliver good food at decent prices.
But as always, and even more so on the Indian internet, we should do our own due diligence with every little thing we read or do online. It is a minefield of misinformation and deranged hustlers out there. And we can’t rely on these platforms to protect our interests.
Stay safe online and thank you for reading! My posts here don’t get too many eyeballs, but the last two went slightly and unexpectedly viral.
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