How coronavirus pandemic is re-shaping restaurant business

Short Description
First week we saw people coming and we thought this would be the trend for the month but as we saw cases going up, we immediately saw the numbers going down.
  • Nusra Deputy Features Editor

Restaurant business has witnessed continuous losses from last few months since lockdown was announced. Even though many restaurants have re-opened their doors for customers in many parts of the country the results are not that exciting to operate the business as it used to be.

“When we opened on 8th June, there was lot of hope. We saw good number of people coming in for dining experiences in the first week and suddenly in the second week everything started collapsing and we saw a 35% decline in sales from first week to second week,” shared Pravesh Pandey, Director, Byg Brewski Brewing Company who was taken a back as the numbers went down as  he was happy initially that diners were coming in, they have taken all necessary precautions but today a lot has changed, the numbers have dropped by another 60%.

Challenges are here to stay

Rental is a major issue : For most of the restaurants that are running or closing their doors permanently, rental is a huge challenge. With no income, paying rentals has left a bad taste among all restaurant owners. “We are in very bad state and I don’t see any sort of relief from the landlords and even the government has not been able to do anything to hospitality. Employment side, there is major hue and cry happening, salaries have become a pressure for us, people who are asking to resign, we don’t have FnF to pay to them,” he added for whom this is the worst time for the sector in his career spanning over 22 years.

Operating hours need to revive: With latest change in the norm of Sunday being a complete lockdown, restaurants in Bangalore lost another 30 per cent of the sale because majority of the businesses were coming from Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also, change in timing is also a major drawback.

Managing cost is a challenge: “First week we saw people coming and we thought this would be the trend for the month but as we saw cases going up, we immediately saw the numbers going down. It is unpredictable; we don’t know the situation what will happen tomorrow. Before the pandemic we knew what businesses we would get on each day. Today, we are getting everything on day-to-day basis. We keep a check on our cost every single day. Manpower, fixed cost, running cost everything,” pointed Shweta Ravi, Director, Nandhana Palace.

Takeaway/Delivery looks like a relief

Though not completely but restaurant operators are getting a small pie of the overall business through delivery and takeaway which has slightly picked up post lockdown.

“With delivery and takeaway we have seen a huge fight. Especially, with takeaway sales we have seen a 50-60 per cent rise which is where we are able to cover up the cost. With delivery per say we have seen a little fall in past with cases increasing and all the news blowing that cases are increasing with delivery etc,” added, Ravi who has opened 11 restaurants out of 15 while their hotels are completely shut.

Commenting on the same, Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman, LOpera, said, “The first thing that we did after lockdown is that it is something that is not going to end soon, it’s not a short-term issue and is going to have a long-lasting impact. We started from scratch and saw we have a production facility, we have a brand and we have quality products but then everything was gone. 18 outlets were closed. As soon as we were able to obtain the authorization we started rebuilding gradually and started delivery. We have takeaway at our 5 outlets in Delhi and one in Dehradun. We knew that the future is going to be delivery and we totally redesigned everything.”

Hence, we can say that restaurants are looking at delivery as only hope during this period. “The only hope available is to latch on the delivery business and we are trying to take larger corporate orders because we have been catering to 2000-3000 people for booking, we are reaching out to corporate and giving new customize pre-mixes,” added Pandey who has also setup a Dark-kitchen at Indiranagar in Bangalore.

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