The global pandemic brought our lives to a standstill. The resultant lockdown had us all cooped up inside our homes as social distancing became the norm. Undoubtedly, this also took a toll on dining out. People missed the luxury culinary experience offered by many high-end hotels and restaurants.
Rise of in-home dining
With offices closed and people constantly working from home and cooking at home, life became mundane. To cut through the sluggishness of the same routine, many chefs, hotels, restaurant chains and food aggregators devised the concept of ‘In-home Dining’.
In-home dining has allowed people to take a break from cooking and enjoy exotic food from their favourite hotels in the comfort of their homes, with the home delivery menus especially curated to suit their palates, ensuring that quarantine doesn’t come in the way of a fancy dinner date.
Hotel and restaurant industry have been one of the worst hit segments due to corona virus lockdown and despite the government easing restrictions, it is likely that the sector will continue to face the heat of coronavirus scare for some time to come as people remain sceptical of venturing out into public spaces. Living in a world where change is the order of the day, restaurants and hotels have been trying out newer alternatives to ensure that their patrons can continue to enjoy their favourite cuisine through an outreach dining experience in the safety of their homes.
Re-inventing for good
As big-fat Indian weddings also got scrapped because of the restriction on the number of guests, many catering companies have also been re-inventing their business models and have started to deliver Family Meal Food Box. The orders are taken slot wise so that the food is prepared only two hours before a particular slot for the people who have ordered it. The catering companies have advised not to reheat this meal box food. For example – Kitchen Kraft Luxury Catering is the first company to begin with this remarkable invention. One can also place an order on their respective websites.
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With strict hygiene measures and safety protocols such as adopting WHO practices, wearing masks, practicing contactless delivery, temperature checks and sanitization stations for food delivery in place, these catering companies have been making it possible for people to enjoy gourmet cuisines while working from home.
A novel culmination of the pandemic-induced lockdown has been the introduction of family meal boxes. Such meal boxes offer 3-course meals including starters, main course and desserts, good enough for a whole family to have. As they are prepared by seasoned gourmet professionals, they are infused with their signature styles that offer a fusion of global ingredients with traditional Indian cuisines to concoct dishes that are incredibly delectable and exude sumptuousness. Designed to be at par with the opulent dining experience that people have been sorely missing out on, these family boxes make sure to innovate and recreate the same unique flavours and taste that relate the customers to fond memories of dining at the properties.
Keeping the gourmet delight
Some of the hotels, restaurants and catering companies have even curated a set of hampers such as gourmet hamper, bakery and confectionary hamper for take-away. Guests can easily order from a pre-decided menu from a host of restaurants and hotels. All these services and offerings are solely on a contact-less takeaway basis, with guests placing their orders and picking it up late from the particular hotel.
At many of the popular catering chains that have now ventured into home delivery, the menu is focused on comfort and popular food. The key here is to have freshly cooked food every day with negligible or no wastage, ensuring that families don’t miss out on the fine dine experience that is primarily the driving force behind this initiative.
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Many from the catering segment feel that the current avatar of the business could be the new normal even after this pandemic. There is extra cost (up to 20 percent) attached to continuing this business, but given the current scenario, it works out well in the end. It's a wonderful opportunity to cater to and connect with existing patrons as well as those who are newly ordering online or directly from the chains. Home delivery could prove to be more profitable and beneficial to the enterprises involved if it’s priced at that sweet spot keeping in mind the market segment.
Summing it up
It is undeniable that the big positive outcome of the lockdown for food business has been the rise of home deliveries and family meal boxes as a vibrant business vertical. With the foray of luxury catering in this arena, there is a strong business case for this emerging vertical that needs to be continually explored, even after the pandemic gets over.