April 29, 2020 / 11:50 AM / a month ago

Gourmet meals in jars a hit in lockdown Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A delivery service that provides the apartment-bound residents of Moscow with restaurant-quality ready meals squeezed into glass jars amid the coronavirus lockdown is expanding to keep pace with increasing demand, its founder said.

Alexander Khasanov, founder of the company "Restaurant from a Jar" producing and delivering restaurant-quality ready meals squeezed into glass jars, which are in high demand now as citizens are staying at home due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, shows the company's products in Moscow, Russia April 24, 2020. Picture taken April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Carsten Seibold

Aleksander Khasanov launched his “Restaurant from a Jar” business in the Russian capital just days before Moscow ordered residents to stay at home where at all possible, a system policed using a digital pass system.

Popular jars include beef stroganoff, rabbit sausage in broth, and a “bachelor’s choice” selection, featuring marinated pork cubes cooked over an open fire.

Moscow’s restaurants and bars are all closed, and residents are only allowed to sate their appetites by venturing to their nearest food store to stock up on groceries or by using a food or restaurant delivery service.

Khasanov’s company is based in Yekaterinburg, a city 1,400 kilometres (885 miles) east of the Russian capital, where he said it built up over 2,000 customers within two and a half years.

“Our output is growing, we are preparing to open another kitchen and will have more jobs,” Khasanov said, adding the firm’s 12 chefs were barely managing to keep up with orders.

The price for a jarred ready meal that serves two and takes minutes to warm up ranges from 380 roubles ($5.1) for soup to 590 roubles ($8.00) for a meat dish.

Customers can choose from more than 100 restaurant-quality dishes which include Russian, Indian, Armenian, Uzbek and other cuisines.

The jarred meals are certified by Russia’s food quality watchdog and can be stored for up to one year.

Khasanov, who plans to open in other cities such as St Petersburg, said he expected demand would remain high even after the lockdown ended because he expected people to work more, have less time for cooking and less money for eating out.

He said the convenience factor meant such delivery services could give restaurants a run for their money.

“They use the best ingredients and we do the same, but we put it in a jar and when someone comes home hungry - there is no need to wait, he can just open one and eat.”

($1 = 73.7400 roubles)

Additional reporting by Dmitry Madorsky and Gennady Novik; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Alexandra Hudson

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