Just shy of its second anniversary, AutoExpress now has 12 autos operating across the city.

This Hyderabad duo has added a new flavour to the citys street food hotdogs
news Food Sunday, October 16, 2016 - 14:49

Hyderabad’s traditional palate of kababs and biryani appears to have taken well to a rather new taste served in an authentically Indian manner: tangy American hotdogs in autos.

“In India, people have only heard about hotdogs through Hollywood movies and magazines, but not many people really know what they taste like. It’s an alien food product for many,” says 27-year-old Urvash Khanna, a resident of Hyderabad and co-founder of AutoExpress.

AutoExpress’ dozen autos serve American hotdogs in two classic sauces across Hyderabad, and the response to both the idea and the flavours has been good.

Urvash pursued a masters in finance at Leeds University Business School in the UK. While there, he worked in several restaurants which served varied cuisines.  

“I come from a very different background but it’s like I was destined to do something in food industry,” Urvash says.

When he discussed the idea with his childhood friend Ashish Emanuel in May 2014, the latter was equally excited. But all they were sure of was that they wanted to serve hotdogs.

The idea to operate out of autos came about as a variation of food trucks. Urvash realised that autos are a commonly used mode of public transport, and unlike large food trucks, autos could reach out to narrow lanes which are typical of Indian cities.

Soon both Urvash and Ashish were convinced that autos were the way to go. The name for their venture – AutoExpress – fell into place soon after.

Ashish’s sister Anisha Lloyd took their idea to the next level by coming up with recipe and style of making the hotdog.

Having studied at the London School of Baking and Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Anisha has also worked at several establishments as a head chef in Australia.

Her idea of poking the bun and toasting it was a new concept for Indian market. This little twist not just makes the hot dog easy to carry, but also easier to eat.

“It doesn’t get messy as the sausages don’t fall off while eating,” he added.

Anisha came up with a varied range of sauces, but they decided to start with two, calling them ‘Insane’ and ‘Rebel’.

‘Insane’ is their popular hotdog, served with mayo-based sauce. ‘Rebel’ has a spicy and tangy mustard sauce, and is AutoExpress’ signature hotdog.

In November 2014, Urvash and Ashish had three autos serving up steaming hotdogs to excited customers.

“Though we are street vendors, we follow a regulated method of business. We are a registered company,” Urvash says.

Just shy of its second anniversary, AutoExpress now has 12 autos operating across the city, selling about 40 hotdogs each in a day.

In September, they expanded their business to Bengaluru and the initial response is good, Urvash says. They plan to add other dishes on the menu but the focus will remain hot dogs.

Although they initially planned their business model with students and professionals in mind, they’ve been pleasantly surprised as people of all age groups and backgrounds have become their customers.

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