Ottawa’s Mahal Tanjore invests in digital presence to bring more patrons through the door

by Andrew Seale   |   January 19, 2024   |   Share this:  

When Ottawa South Indian cuisine staple Mahal Tanjore changed its name from Thanjai in Spring 2023, it was bigger than just signage. Co-founder Rajesh Tyagi wanted Mahal Tanjore to be more than just a local favourite in The Glebe.

“We wanted to brand the name,” says Tyagi. The name change gave the business the ability to trademark. It also made it easier to find online. To Tyagi, it was the first step toward building out the restaurant’s online presence, something he admits they haven’t paid much attention to since opening in Ottawa’s The Glebe neighbourhood in 2017.

“We have a full bar, around 60 seats,” says Tyagi. Currently, the business is split 70/30 between dining in and take out. The main idea is to eat fresh,” says the co-founder. “Within seconds you get it hot off the plate from the chef and it’s right in front of you.”

Tyagi says he’s noticed the older generation wants to dine in and experience the food fresh from the chef.

But Tyagi doesn’t want to overlook the online order portion of the business which he says is often younger patrons. “We don't want to lose that,” he says.

While Tyagi teaches international marketing and service operations at a master’s level, he recognizes his blindspots when it comes to digital presence. So when he heard about Digital Main Street, a program combining grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario alongside partners to help main street businesses strengthen their online capabilities and plan for the digital future, he saw the $2,500 Digital Transformation Grant and training as an opportunity to grow the business’s digital footprint.

“I cannot do some of those things from the training,” he says. It was eye-opening and gave him a new perspective on building out Mahal Tanjore’s brand.

Tyagi says he used the funding to invest in a more robust e-commerce site that could handle online orders and payments. “Just the basic website was there earlier,” he says. The new website helps highlight the restaurant's extensive offering of South Indian food while showcasing its catering business.

Tyagi is hoping social media will help expand the reputation for its on-site live dosa (a savoury crepe) catering experience, allowing it to tap into new customers outside of Ottawa.“We bring our machine or our mobile things to your place, and we make it there,” says Tyagi. It’s an element of the business he plans to explore further.

Tyagi also used some of the Digital Transformation Grant to invest in high-quality photography for both social media and the website.

“We are posting more reels on our Facebook… we are way more active,” he says.

But ultimately, the digital elements of the business are meant to drive traffic back into the restaurant. Even the online ordering, says Tyagi. “Once they come to pick up an order, they will probably come for dining next time.”

 

Visit Mahal Tanjore's new website to get a taste of their delicious South Indian cuisine! (Instagram/Facebook)

To apply for the Digital Transformation Grant visit here.

About Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Meta, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, Lightspeed, Ebay and Canada Post.

Continued investment from the Province of Ontario, through the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) has allowed the ongoing expansion the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital across Ontario.

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