New Delhi, Oct 22 (IANS) It has not just re-engineered the menu to cater to Indian tastes. To beat traffic blues in thickly populated Old Delhi, McDonald's has come up with its world's first - delivery by bicycles.
The global food giant's outlet in crowded Chandni Chowk is probably the only one in the world where delivery takes place on bicycles so as to overcome the challenge of negotiating the maze of lanes and bylanes dotting the city's old quarters dating back to the Mughals.
When McDonald's India started its delivery model in April 2004, it faced a major problem with its Chandni Chowk branch where it was not able to deliver orders on time by using scooters due to heavy traffic jams and crowded narrow lanes.
'We use specially modified and branded scooters everywhere for delivery. But keeping in view the accessibility factor as well as the maze of bylanes in Chandni Chowk, we felt scooters will not serve our purpose,' Vikram Bakshi, managing director, McDonalds India (north), told IANS.
'We looked at other alternatives and finally zeroed in on bicycles. This 'McDelivery on Bicycles' model was introduced recently and exclusively for the residents of the area,' he said.
This exceptional initiative by the multinational was deployed with five branded bicycles. With demand rising, the number has doubled to 10. The young men who ride the bicycles are called 'Delivery Squad Members'.
Chandni Chowk is one of the busiest business hubs in Delhi and its environs are estimated to hold about one million people. The street, located across the 17th-century Red Fort monument, boasts of some of the best-known eateries besides shops that deal with everything from detergent to jewellery.
Legend has it that the place was named after its world-renowned silversmiths who used to create exquisite silver ornaments for the Mughal emperor.
'We started using bicycles from March this year. This is the best way to manoeuvre through the lanes here,' explained Pawanjit Singh, head of McDonald's delivery division in northern India.
'It has proved to be a very cost-effective step as it saves expenditure on petrol and it is unique in the sense that we have not used this kind of delivery model anywhere in the world.'
The investment on this system was also nominal. The company spent Rs.2,200-2,500 on each bicycle, which includes the cost of customizing them by fixing red colour hot boxes and helmets for the delivery boys.
'The food carrying box was placed on each of the cycles to ensure that the nutrient value of the food is maintained and they are well preserved,' explained Bakshi.
So an area famous for its piping hot and tasty parathas, sweets and Mughlai kebabs suddenly found an appetite for burgers and French fries.
'A major market centre and equally strong residential area make our restaurant at Chandni Chowk one of the buzzing restaurants. Both McDelivery and customers visiting the restaurant are competing with each other,' Bakshi said.
Salma Begum, 48, who feels McDonald's has changed the landscape of Chandni Chowk, told IANS after some prodding, speaking through the veil: 'My husband first brought me here. Initially I thought the place was lousy. But now whenever there is an occasion in the family, I prefer to come here. There is something about the place that makes me feel good a