How off-premises dining has helped casual dining chains grow sales

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Presently sitting at a market size of Rs 2365 crore, casual dining restaurants are witnessing a continuous growth of 11.9%.
  • Nusra Deputy Features Editor

It’s going to take a long time to overcome the loss caused because of the pandemic for the next six months at least. Casual dining segment which emerged as one of the winner in last 4-5 years has seen a   very slow business in last one year. Presently sitting at a market size of Rs 2365 crore, it is witnessing a continuous growth of 11.9%.


However, with the support of our employees, landlords who are ready to negotiate on the rent, brands are gradually getting there. Cost controls in various ways ie. procuring ingredients, raw materials, sourcing has become important for these brand to overcome the loss.


Also, experts believe that once you have lost something it can never be returned to the point should not be overcoming the loss but also about the sustainability after the covid. Hence, restaurants are fully charged & power packed to deliver the service & food as they used to deliver before covid.


 Is off-premises dining a blessing?


“Delivery is a blessing. It gives you the opportunity to build extra revenue and makes you nimble; it makes you understand how you can package the product better. It is a brand extension that you never knew you had until covid. I think it's a great way for entrepreneurs in the business to leverage their brand equity,” shared Rahul Khanna, Co-founder, Azure Hospitality that own brands like Mamagoto etc.


There’s no denying that off-premises sale has become only hope for restaurateurs these days. With news of other variants hitting countries like South Africa, US to name a few, we have already seen brands like McDonald’s announcing closures of dining facilities at places that are witnessing high number of cases. In such a situation, restaurateurs can bank upon delivery, takeaways to overcome these losses.


“Any revenue flowing in the business is never a curse. This has given us an opportunity to delve into areas that have been unexploited. It gave us great insights to serve products in a different manner. We were always strong on the delivery front. However, the pandemic has strengthened how we provide value to the customers,” added Pankaj Gupta of Oye Kake, Lower Parel and Fort who has also redesigned the packaging to ensure minimum food spillage and food tampering.


Though, nobody could say whether off-premises dinning is curse though it's a blessing as well because during lockdown it is the only thing which has kept the restaurant industry alive as well has made the financial cycle running for staff & owners both. Yes it has laid an impact on dinning but that wouldn't effect much as everything is trying to be normal now under new guidelines


How dine is picking up the game post re-opening?


The delivery sale saw a surge during the pandemic. Restarting of dining in is of course going to get impacted as people are going to come out. But on a broader scale of things, the F&B industry is able to tap into newer guests which weren't possible before. Pre covid to post covid, dining in sales are affected after dining has started. The overall delivery sales have risen in terms of acquisition of new customers, the market has become wider. People have developed new habits of ordering food which wasn't there before. The delivery sales have gone low but if you compare it to pre-covid sales it has gone up.


“Now that the restaurant are open people are happy & want to visit their favourite restaurant which they missed out during the lockdown . Restaurants known for their live gigs, food & ambience feel pride to serve the guest the same way they used to do before covid,” pointed Parth Bharti of Pikkle  by adding that the ratio of dinning vs delivery is almost same like it used to be with a variation of increase in 4-5 per cent in delivery.


Similarly, Azure Hospitality that runs multiple restaurants across different categories is seeing a 70:30 ratio of dine-in vs delivery sales, depending from location to location.


Spreading wings


“There are a number of positive learnings we have drawn out from this pandemic. We are doing concise concepts. Because of the pandemic, we are able to redesign the kitchen to fit our needs. To ensure multi-tasking in the kitchen, we realised high dependency on manpower in our industry can be challenging. Working in a concise space is needed,” added Gupta who is focusing to grow takeaways, delivery kitchens and building trust of the customer. The brand is also opening a new takeaway, delivery kitchen in Santacruz and expanding pan India. Two of our outlets are under construction and should be open before Diwali.


Commenting on expansion plan Khanna further shared, “Yes, we are expanding both in delivery and dine-in. We are making our way into tier 2 and tier 3 cities with our brick and mortar restaurants. We are also very aggressive with our dark kitchens in Delhi NCR, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Thankfully, our expansion plans have not been halted at all.”

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