With the Ministry of Home Affairs issuing guidelines on a phased reopening, many businesses will reopen next week (8th June) onwards and people will slowly start resuming regular life. With that, restaurant owners believe consumers will likely seek solace in human interaction for a reassurance of normalcy and security, especially after the prolonged periods of lockdown, although with an assurance of safety and well-being.
Following Govt’s Protocol
“We have planned for ways in which consumers can enjoy their favourite KFC food with friends and family when they come to the restaurants, while being assured of their safety. We have modified the restaurant designs to reinforce social distancing, trained team members according to new norms and are implementing measures like distanced seating arrangements, demarcated waiting spots in the queues, controlled customer inflow, etc. All this while extending our existing 4X Safety Promise of Screening, Social distancing, Sanitization & Contactless – across platforms, that meet WHO and Health Ministry guidelines,” shared Moksh Chopra, CMO, KFC India.
With Govt announcing restaurants and cafes to reopen from 8th June under MHA guidelines it will not be easy for them to re-open due to certain restrictions being implemented on the sector under Unlock 1.0.
“It is a good sign that restaurants may be allowed to open soon. I emphasize on the word “may” because there is always is slip between the cup and the lip,” said Sanjeev Kapoor, Celebrity Chef & Entrepreneur by adding that the whole industry has been on verge of collapse and with this ray of hope things may slowly come back to somewhat normal. “It would regenerate employment for thousands of people whose livelihood depended on this. Business may still continue to be slow hence needs support from all stakeholders including government, property owners and customers,” he added.
Shortage of migrant labours that contributes a lot in the restaurant workforce, dining timings that has been reduced to 9PM and also bars not allowed to open and restaurants asked not to sale liquor would all become a tough ecosystem going forward.
“The last two months have taught us a lot; we learnt the art of resilience and survival amongst many other things. We are thrilled that restaurants are opening once again and there is finally a ray of hope that the F&B industry will survive, and by God's grace flourish in time,” shared Syesha Kapoor, Associate Director, Silver Beach Entertainment and Hospitality India Pvt Ltd by adding that having said this, they are fully aware that their guests’ health and safety is #1 priority. “Our entire business now and moving forward will have to be planned basis this as the core. It will be challenging but we welcome this new beginning,” she further pointed.
Also, apart from Bengaluru, all major metros including Delhi and Mumbai that contributes majorly to the dining out business in terms of volumes and footfall comes under red zone and hence will see only a few businesses running, with areas under containment and micro-containment zones.
Also, as Maharashtra is continuously seeing a rise in the cases, the state Govt here prohibited the reopening of hotels and restaurants from June 1 to June 30.
Is Contactless Dining Future of Restaurants?
“This welcome announcement from the government and all our stores are fully prepared to serve valued customers. We are already following all regulatory protocols and guidelines issued by the government, WHO and FSSAI at our stores since Contactless Delivery and Takeaway is operational,” quoted Merrill Pereyra , Managing Director, Pizza Hut Indian Subcontinent.
The restaurants are all geared up by doing temperature checks of customers and staff and ensuring masks are worn by restaurant staff at all times. Sanitizers have been installed at key touch points and ordering stations and seating have been re-aligned to maintain social distancing norms.
“All our stores are equipped to offer Contactless Dining wherein right from accessing the menu to making payments, the process will be digital,” said Pereyra.
Learning from Global Franchisees
Commenting on the same Mandeep Singh Sethi, Vice President – Operations, Burman Hospitality Pvt Ltd (Taco Bell’s Master Franchise Partner in India), said, “The government’s decision to allow the opening of restaurants and malls outside containment zones is a welcome decision. Restaurant brands like ours have been working diligently on creating and testing new ways of operations designed for the post COVID-19 world. Being a global brand, we at Taco Bell already had to adhere to a stringent set of protocols which meant we were leaders in terms of health and safety.”
He also added that to reinforce this, they have been gaining knowledge from what other Taco Bell franchisees have been adopting globally and have already started introducing a number of features that will make them the safest restaurants in India. Some examples are re-organizing restaurant layouts, creating an end-to-end contactless dining experience for our consumers, as well as introducing new business models which have a greater focus on delivery and take-away.
“We will re-open our restaurants with additional hygiene and safety measures. Social distancing will be followed both on the restaurant floors, as well as in the kitchens; temperature checks will be enforced for everyone entering our restaurants, whether it is our own team members or our customers; wherever possible, delivery orders will be fulfilled without needing riders to enter the restaurant; seating arrangements will be altered to respect social distancing, ensuring adequate distance between people even when at the same table; all employees will be wearing gloves and masks at all times; contactless payments will be encouraged and all restaurant surfaces will be sanitized at regular intervals. Customer and team member safety will be paramount, whatever the cost to us,” he added.