Zero-waste cafe in Malleswaram

Eat Raja on Sampige Road is trending online for its zero-waste policy. 

The innovative ways the eatery has adopted to serve food and beverages is turning heads.

Metrolife visited the cafe and had a chat with the owner Anand Raja.

How it all started 

Anand Raj was a radio-jockey for twelve years. He quit his job to take over his father’s juice centre when he passed away two years ago.

Formerly known as ‘Karnataka Travels and Juice Centre’, Anand decided to rename the shop as ‘Eat Raja’.

He shares the story behind the unusual name, “Every parent is concerned if their children have eaten or not. My dad, especially, used to say ‘thinnappa raja’ (eat raja) a lot. So, I decided to name the shop ‘Eat Raja’ in his memory.” 

The eatery is also called ‘A Mom-sourced Cafe’.

“The food is home-cooked, made by my mom. We won’t think twice to have food cooked by our mom, that’s the idea behind it’,” he elaborates.

Why zero-waste?

Due to his love for the environment, Anand decided to make the cafe a zero-waste zone. He discussed the idea with a few city-based environment crusaders.

He shares, “All they asked me to do is to refuse single-use products and segregate waste into wet and dry.” 

That’s when he banned pet bottles, plastic cups, paper cups, straws and bags, which were the major source of dry waste, in the cafe.

Instead of plastic straws, he gives out leaf straws, a product developed by a professor at IISc. He doesn’t give out parcels either unless the customer brings their own bottle or box. 

Anand approached Smitha Kamath, of Praanapoorna, who taught him how to make bio enzymes out of the wet waste, formed by fruit skins, pulp etc.

Henceforth, Anand started turning citrus fruits to bio enzymes and fed the non-citrus ones to cows. 

“Still, some waste is generated through the commodities I buy for the shop, like milk. But I manage; I am moving towards zero-waste, by keeping a check on everything,” he says. 

Presentation is everything

With competition around, Anand needed something to make his business stand out and successful. Which is when Anand started using the skins of watermelon and pineapple to serve the beverages. It garnered attention and became an instant hit.  

“People don’t come here just for the juice, they now see it as an experience,” he says. 

He shares an incident, “One customer visited during closing time. I served him juice in a normal glass; he refused it and asked me to serve it in the watermelon skin.” 

Many varieties 

Anand also serves unusual concoctions made of fruits like jackfruit, rambutan, peach etc. During our visit, he made us a special drink made of apple, jackfruit, dry fruits, vanilla ice cream and malai. It was served in the apple skin and was delicious. He also sells home-made masalas made by housewives and moms.   

Opened many avenues

Many corporate offices are also approaching Anand to set up juice centres in their offices. He shares that he has people come in just to take pictures and a number of students for research.  

Want to go zero-waste?

The only advice Anand gives to go zero-waste is “refuse things that could create waste.”

Tough business

Although a positive initiative, Anand says it is tough to stay in business amidst competition.  

“I don’t make huge profits. But, I don’t want this to fail because it might put down people who would want to adopt zero-waste policy.”

The other challenge he faces is finding like-minded people to work at the cafe. 

“I don’t have people to work here. I have to teach them how to go zero-waste from scratch; it is difficult to make people understand,” he shares.

The prices of the fruits are also hard on his pocket if he has to serve every drink in fruit skin. 

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