I had wanted to give this response to Gaurav’s post, but Neel has already done it. Gaurav thinks that the lack of Marathi migration explains why the Maharashtrian thali has not become as popular as the Gujarati thali. But, as Neel points out, his theory does not explain why Maharashtrian food has not become popular even in Mumbai outside the Marathi dominated areas. More interestingly, Maharashtrian food has not moved out of its downmarket niche, even though there is a strong Maharashtrian middle and upper class. This last fact brings us back to the Marathi non-entrepreneurial spirit theory. It suggests to us that owners of Maharashtrian restaurants are content with what they are and do not want to scale up. This is the most likely explanation, but two alternatives are:
- Maharashtrian diners are different from Gujju diners, in that when they dine out, they aren’t looking for Maharashtrian food.
- There is something about Maharashtrian food that does not lend itself to moving upscale – I think this last is very unlikely.