Inspired by an unfortunate dining experience, Garishma Agrawal developed an app that is of great value to food enthusiasts.
Almost a year ago, Garishma Agrawal ventured out to an Italian restaurant for a get-together. She eagerly went to grab a meal, with family in tow, but was left disappointed when she found the restaurant shut. Her mind immediately rushed to Zomato, a restaurant search and discovery service, and how its prevalence in India didn't allow for such unfortunate scenarios. She left the restaurant, with an empty stomach but also a brain pulsating with a luminous idea.
Born and raised in Kolkata, Garishma had recently moved to Kathmandu after her nuptials with Arpit Agrawal, executive director of Vishal Group, a Nepali business conglomerate. A foodie since childhood, Garishma’s unfortunate dining experience led her to develop a restaurant finder app.
Agrawal assembled a team of seven engineers to develop an app targeted at providing information about eateries. Her idea, after considerable hard work, ultimately became ‘Toastman’, a restaurant finder app currently operating in Kathmandu. An electronics and communication engineer by occupation, Agrawal and her team developed Toastman aiming to provide a platform where people can view ratings and reviews of eateries and then make a calculated decision conforming to their preferences. The app also educates the users about the location, the payment process and about parking details. It took roughly six months for Garishma and her team to assemble information on over 2,000 restaurants and cafés. The app runs the gamut, from roadside tea stalls to five-star restaurants. Agrawal says, “We have covered all possible eateries because occasionally we find the taste of the food at a modest roadside café better than that of a high-end restaurant.” The app displays menus as well as an assortment of pictures of all the tracked eateries.
“Now, we have stopped tracking the restaurants, and are concentrating on updating the information,” Agrawal said, adding the app is of considerable benefit to tourists as they have scant knowledge about the eateries in Kathmandu. In a brief period, the app has already garnered approximately 1,000 downloads and the user feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, states Agrawal.
While apps of this breed are predominant in other countries, Zomato in India and Burrp, Yelp and others in the United States of America, Toastman is the first of its kind in Nepal according to Agrawal. “There are apps like these in foreign countries but Nepal is slow to adopt new technology. Our focus is to make Toastman an app that has all the information about the all the eateries to make it Nepal's perfect restaurant finder," she says.
‘Toastman’ users can also upload pictures and post reviews of the eateries they visit. The app also provides information about the operational timings of the eateries to food enthusiasts. Along with the timings, the app also presents information regarding the payment system at the eatery; this is vital information as many restaurants only accept payments via cash. Further, the app also advises about any supplementary payments levied by the eatery, namely VAT and Service Charge.
Toastman, initially available for Android phones, is now compatible with iOS devices as well. Toastman has already tied up with six restaurants in the capital. The consumers can avail a 10 per cent discount using the unique code provided by the app. Agrawal shares that Toastman has plans to tie up with 100 restaurants in Kathmandu. It also plans to expand its services to major tourist destinations like Chitwan and Pokhara. The team has been focusing on making the app function as smoothly as possible and providing updated information about the restaurants to ensure the restaurant-going experience is an enjoyable one.
Agrawal is confident that Toastman will also function as a desirable social media platform, a Facebook for food enthusiasts.