The coronavirus pandemic has affected the entire world and the restaurant industry is not immune to the impact. The multi-crore restaurant industry in India has been badly impacted as footfalls dipped to almost nil at most eateries across the nation and several others prepared to shut down.
In the last two weeks, popular hangout places have experienced a steep fall in their customer base, with people avoiding crowded places and choosing to stay at home.
According to the National Restaurant Association of India, in-restaurant dining has witnessed “an approximate business drop of 30-35 percent”.
“There has been a definite impact of the epidemic in the overall food service business, with various segments being impacted in varying degrees. In-restaurant dining is also seeing a big impact with restaurants located within mall premises recording a sharper drop,” said Anurag Katriar, President, NRAI.
Cloud Kitchens to the Rescue
The delivery segment, so far, is seeing the least impact, according to NRAI.
“We haven’t seen any decline in our overall sales till now. Burger Singh and Bowl Hub have a larger proportion of sales already coming from delivery. Delivery sales have actually gone up in the last 2 days by 4.5 percent. Yes, we have seen dine-in sales decline because of the social distancing advisory to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, but this decline in dine-in sales has been more than compensated by the uptick in delivery orders,” said Kabir Jeet Singh, CEO, Burger Singh and Bowl Hub.
Resonating the same thoughts, Sumit Gulati, Owner and Founder, Spice Market Kitchen & Bar, Call Chotu and Nayi Dilli Ke Pranthe said, “After the outbreak of Covid-19 and its spread in India, consumers are staying at home as a precautionary measure. The virus spreads through droplets so crowded places are potentially dangerous. Thus, dine-in restaurants receive fewer customers as people fear coming in contact with others. In addition, the virus tends to stay on surfaces, like tables. Therefore, ordering food online has become a very feasible option. Hence, the demand for cloud kitchens has increased, keeping the food service industry intact from severe losses of employment and finance.”
In addition to Call Chotu, Sumit Gulati is working on expanding other cloud kitchen, Nayi Dilli Ke Paranthe to expand their consumer base.
“Consumers are reluctant to go out to restaurants as dining out is no longer considered safe or responsible. However, ordering delivery is still a viable option. And this is the trend that we too are noticing at Cross Border Kitchens. We are seeing the same “ordering in” trend is continuing, and all our brands are continuing to deliver,” added Mayank Singh Negi, Co-Founder, Cross Border Kitchens.
Foodservice brands are taking all necessary precautions while delivering the food to curb the spread of the virus.
Elaborating on the same, Karan Tanna, Founder of Ghost Kitchens, said, “We are keeping a check on the temperature of the employees, masks and use of sanitiser has been made compulsory, contactless handover of food delivery parcel to aggregator riders has been initiated.”
“We are also using gloves and hairnets apart from taking above-mentioned precautions,” added Chef Anshu Raj, Founder, Caterspoint.
Westlife Development, owner and operator of McDonald’s restaurants in west and southern India, on Monday said it has launched contactless delivery keeping in mind the coronavirus outbreak.
Commenting on steps taken, Smita Jatia, Managing Director, Hardcastle Restaurants said, “Our customers’ safety has been and will continue to be our top priority. On one hand, we have doubled up the safety and hygiene processes at our restaurants and on the other, we are ensuring contactless delivery to uphold consumers’ trust in McDonald’s.”
The company further said since the government is shutting malls and restaurants as a precautionary measure, McDonald’s is expanding its delivery network to ensure its food is available to customers, both through its owned app and through third-party delivery partners.