Two is company. No wonder Jiby Mathews and Shodhan Shetty made for perfect partners to convert a dream into a reality. Their new restaurant “Touche”— only about two months old — has captured the imagination of Bangaloreans. The restaurant has a unique feature that is a first in India: touch tables. The tables have inbuilt touch screens that have a multitude of features. So one can order food, play games and read jokes, even.
Jiby always knew, despite pursuing an MS in interactive multimedia, that he would venture into the hospitality sector. “I had no experience in this sector. But…” and he smiles at his partner Shodhan and says: “He came as an angel…” the duo laugh at this. Their camaraderie evident.
The idea for touch tables was first conceived by Jiby when he worked part-time at restaurants in the UK. Their roles were clearly divided from the start.
“Shodhan handled the hospitality side of it while I looked into the developing its web application,” says Jiby. The two got to work as soon as they moved to Bangalore. “I first tested the application on my personal computer. I felt good about how it turned out. I decided on single touch instead of multi-touch to avoid any confusion or complications.”
For Shodhan, the experience was fascinating. “We started from scratch. Jiby worked hard to develop the applications. We encountered glitches and difficulties along the way, but it was all worth it.”
The concept of the touch screen has been prevalent for the past 20 to 25 years. But Jiby claims that his idea is slightly different.
“Multimedia options are available in other restaurants too, but mostly at the back end. We, at Touche, have brought it to the front end. Customers are directly involved in the process. There are restaurants in India that have track pads and many restaurants in the West have small screens one side of the table. But none of them are interactive.” Besides, Touche provides the interface to make ordering easier. Also, items that are not available for the day are removed.
Maintaining the system is difficult, but Jiby is confident that the team of technical experts are capable. “I believe we are quite stable where we stand now,” says Jiby. “Optimism and innovation” keeps the duo going. They plan to improvise on Touche further, besides making this franchise model available in retail showroom and other outlets. “We will provide internet solutions to those who are interested in a similar concept,” concludes Jiby.
This column features those whose veer off the beaten track