After college one evening, a bunch of friends and I hopped across to our nearest vada pav wallah for a quick snack. It was 6:30 in the evening and the stall was crowded. People rushing to catch their trains stopped to for a quick bite. I stopped eating my vada pav and began counting the number of people buying them. The vendor sold 30 vada-pavs in 10 minutes. Each vada pav cost Rs. 12/-. That meant he made Rs. 360/- in 10 minutes. Which meant he would almost make Rs. 2,160/- in an hour. Four peak hours in a day meant he would be pulling in Rs. 8,640/-. Let’s assume that he would make Rs. 1,000/- in the rest of the day. This guy was pulling in almost 10K a day! That meant in three days, he would make more than my starting salary after I graduated with a Master’s degree?
I got into Freakanomics mode. I just had to find out if this guy was an exception or the rule. I hit up four vada pav wallahs across the city and these are my findings:
1. Anand Vada Pav: Opposite Mithibai College, Vile Parle West, Mumbai.
Time: 2:30 PM
Located outside a prominent college in Mumbai, Anand Vada Pav has been awarded the ‘Best Vada Pav in Mumbai’ by Mouthshut.com. They offer a variety of vada pavs like Butter Vada Pav (Rs. 20), Grill Vada Pav (Rs. 30), Schezwan Grill Vada Pav (Rs. 30) and many more. Anand Vada Pav is known to serve hot, spicy and the best vada pav in Mumbai which truly gives the customers ‘Anand’ at heart.
I spent an hour outside their stall. They sold 30 vada pavs in that time. Most of them were the Butter vada pavs. That meant they sold Rs. 600/- worth of vada pavs in an hour. When I spoke to the people behind the counter, he told me that they pretty much average the same for 8 hours a day. College students are always hungry and there is no rush hour as such. Students are always in and out of the place. That makes it 600*8= Rs. 4,800/- a day. Multiply that by 25 and you get Rs. 1,20,000/- a month just off vada pav sales.
Generally, the profit margin in food is at least 100%. That means Anand makes a profit of Rs. 60,000/- a month (after accounting for ingredients, hafta, and employees) only from vada pavs.
We didn’t take into account the amount they make from their frankies. They have Paneer Burji Frankie (Rs. 70), Jain Chinese Cheese Frankie (Rs. 60), Mushroom Frankie (Rs. 60) and Chinese Paneer Frankie (Rs. 70). They sell roughly 15 frankies an hour. You work out the math on this one.
2. Aaram Vada Pav: Capital Cinema Building, Opposite CST station, CST, Mumbai.
Time: 7 PM
Aaram is located right outside CST station in Mumbai, one of the world’s busiest stations. I hung around there for an hour in the evening. They were knocking off vada-pavs at two every minute. Priced at Rs. 15 each, they made 120*15 = Rs. 1,800/- in an hour. Four peak working hours make daily sales of Rs. 7,200/-. CST has slow traffic on weekends. Let’s assume Aaram is profitable for only 22 days a month. That makes it a monthly sales of 7,200*22 = Rs. 1,58,400/-
Monthly Profit: Rs. 79,200/-
3. Ashok Vada Pav: Near Kirti College, Veer Savarkar Marg, Prabhadevi, Mumbai.
Time: 4 PM
Ashok Vada Pav has the same advantage as Anand. It is located near a college. The whole of Worli, Mahim and Shivaji Park descends here to gorge on vada pavs and chura pavs (Ashok Speciality). Even though the vada pav is priced at Rs. 20/- here, the service is quick and the vadas are crunchy, making it worth the price. They sell about 50 vada pavs an hour which amounts to Rs. 1,000/- an hour and almost to Rs 8,000 if they sell for eight hours. A 25 day work-month will get them sales of Rs.2,00,000.
Monthly Profit: Rs. 1,00,000/-
4. Gayatri Snacks and Cold Drink Centre: Opposite Mithibai College, Vile Parle West, Mumbai.
Time: 10 AM
A big shop situated exactly opposite Mithibai College and next to Anand Vada Pav; a two decade old eatery started by Mr Pawar, Gayatri has made its own brand of vada pav for the students of Mithibai College and office goers here. A butter vada pav goes for Rs.20/- as does a samosa pav. They sell 35 vada pavs and about 20 samosa pavs an hour. That means they make Rs. 1,100/- an hour. An 8-hour workday gets them Rs. 8,800/- an hour. A 25-day month equals Rs. 2,20,000/- in sales.
Monthly Profit: Rs. 1,10,000/-
Screw my Master’s degree. I am opening up a vada pav stall!