Virtual Curry Brands Slammed

24th May 2021

A vegetarian curry house, Madras Flavours, has been criticised for operating 40 “virtual brands” on Deliveroo and UberEats websites from its single kitchen in Reading, many with similar or identical menus.

Local food blogger ‘Edible Reading’ labelling the move as “disingenuous at best,” adding, “I really struggle to see any rational explanation why a business would have almost fifty different names across Deliveroo and Uber Eats, all trading from the same address and all offering virtually identical menus.

The restaurant owner Mubarak Abdul said he only ever intends to run a maximum of five online concepts from his restaurant. Abdul had employed the services of the London-based consultancy Flavour Town, which said running 40 alternative brands was a “mistake”

Flavour Town CEO said: Mr Rahul Itaphe added: “People are aware of dark kitchens. It has been going on for two years. There is nothing dodgy about it.”

A Deliveroo spokesman said: “In terms of transparency, one of the key benefits of virtual brands is that it allows our partners to test new ideas, menus and products independent of their original brand which leads to better choice for customers.

The approach has been slammed as “disingenuous at best” and “the illusion of choice”, but Deliveroo has backed the tactic, saying it is “not an attempt to flood the market in Reading”.

Madras Flavours, at 10-13 Kings Road, had more than 40 virtual brands listed last week on delivery websites, most with the same or very similar menus, but many of these have since been removed.

Uber Eats has since removed 14 virtual brands, saying, “Uber Eats takes this issue very seriously and we are currently investigating the matter.
“If we detect any suspected fraudulent activity, we will take necessary action, which may include removing a restaurant from our app.””

Deliveroo still has 29 restaurants at the address on the website as of this story being published, but only 16 are currently accepting orders.

The virtual brands included: Madras Flavours Pure Indian Vegetarian Restaurant (the actual restaurant); Dosa King; Dosa Magic; Dosa Planet; Grand Dosa; Deccan Express; Hyderabadi Biryani Club; Royal Biryani; Shahi Veggie Biryani; Halal Biryani; Urban Tadka; Indian Tales; Indian Infusion; The Spice Route; Dakshin Chutney; Chola Bawan; Kesar; Desi Chilly; Wok65; Hakka Town; Fatt Monk; Indie Wok; Silk Route Journey; Epic Momos; Soul Chutney; Manchurian Magic; Wow Wok; Epic Dosa; Aromas of India; Streets of India, Desi Dhaba, Indian Chimney South Indian Express; Dosa World; Royal Biryani; Momo Land; Hakka Street; Desi Wok; Momo Monk; Momo Magic; and Biryani Bhai