Even as people continue to flood the banks of the Ganges for the Kumbh Mela, and elsewhere politicians are exhorting people to come out for rallies and elections in waves, the earnings of restaurants across the Capital have reduced to a mere trickle. The hospitality industry was one of the worst hit by the pandemic; in the face of this second surge and the order to limit their services to only takeaway and delivery, many are fearful if they’ll ever be able to recover from the insidious economic toll of Covid-19.
Ankit Mehrotra, Founder- CEO of dining aggregator Dineout, fittingly encapsulates the outrage felt by restaurateurs across Delhi-NCR: “The authorities are letting the Kumbh and elections take place and we are already seeing their potential as super-spreader events. Meanwhile, have you heard of any restaurant becoming a source of multiple infections? Restaurants were anyway hampered by the still ongoing 50 per cent seating cap, and now with this lockdown, the industry is being singled out again with the prohibition of dine-in.”
Shivam Sehgal, founder of Josh and Marketplace feels that the government should try the curfew only for a week and see if it’s actually helping the cause.”There is so much panic in the staff as so many livelihoods depend on this decision. We, as responsible restaurateurs, were making sure of safety standards and protocols. We can pack food with delivery, but we can’t pack experience. And so, home delivery is not at all about what we are, what our identity is.” Indeed, while restaurants have been reduced to delivery outlets, owners of bars and high-end dining venues alike are saying that delivery barely helps in sustaining the businesses. “Depending on the business model, delivery represents anything between less than 10 per cent up to 100 per cent of the F&B business.
Very little for those businesses which are experiential, dine-in centred and where the sale of alcoholic beverages represents a major part of the revenues with no specificity of the food menu and no experience with the logistics of the delivery,” points out Kazem Samandari of L’Opéra, adding, “At the other extreme, we have business models based on decentralised cloud kitchens with excellent ordering and fulfillment processes and infrastructure who will not or only suffer little from the present lockdown and surge.
They may even see their business grow as other players leave the market.” Priyank Sukhija of First Fiddle Restaurants is even more blunt, saying, “Delivery is not a way to sustain business, it is just a minor part of it. People step out not only for good food, but for a good experience which is made possible with good music, good drinks, good service, good vibes, etc. The government must support the sector by waiving fees, extending deadlines and licences, providing tax relief and facilitating all administrative procedures.” This is a common refrain by restaurant owners who point out that even after operating at 50 per cent capacity over the last year, they have been paying full rents, utilities and other expenses with no government waivers.
Apart from the financial relief, restaurateurs are also calling on authorities to include F&B workers in the frontline workers category and so be eligible for vaccination, which is the best tool against the virus. So what can we do to do our bit for our favourite eateries? “Directly ordering from restaurants will really go a long way in the current climate. It guarantees end-to-end control, and in turn assured quality, safety and a communication channel,” says Mayank Bhatt, Brand Head, SOCIAL, noting, “Impresario Handmade Restaurants launched its tech-enabled platform to build a direct relationship with the customer. Ordering from aggregators is tricky as customers cannot be sure about the quality of food being delivered. To that end, it’s a win-win.” And the restaurant industry could really use one of those about now.
Restaurants Offering Their Own Delivery
Impresario Handmade Restaurants (Smoke House Deli, SOCIAL, BOSS Burgers)
- Zoet Desserts
- Butter Delivery
- Punjab Grill
- Aku’s Burgers
- Tossin Pizza
- Azuma Kara,and many more.
Check if your favourite restaurant has its own delivery service, and order from them directly.