Will Covid-19 change the way we dine?
Before the closure of restaurants was announced due to the national lockdown, going out for a meal was all about a rich culinary experience, great hospitality and clicking for the ‘gram. But is it going to change post pandemic?Updated: Apr 08, 2020 11:51 IST
Let’s face it, this city loves to eat and mushrooming of restaurants all around was a proof of that. However with the closure of restaurants enforced by the coronavirus pandemic has brought the most important question to the fore- ‘will the culture of eating out change’? Will diners become more cautious about going out and dining with several others? And overcoming this hurdle will be the most challenging task ahead for restaurateurs.
Aniesha Chaana, a digital marketing manager and a frequent diner at the Capital’s popular eateries worries about the precautions restaurants will take in the future. She says, “I used to dine out at least thrice a week. But now I will be a little apprehensive to eat out. Earlier which was the most inconsequential action like touching the menu card, will now turn into something really worrisome. Moreover, being at home actually has also given plenty the time to experiment with their culinary skills and I am sure about the hygiene.”
Restaurant owners fear this and are working towards getting back their patrons. Several restaurateurs feel that, while they will take stringent preventive measures to ensure proper hygiene and safety of diners, it will be a humongous, challenging task to rebuild the trust and win the faith of customers.
Akshay Anand, founder, Ophelia and Toy Room, feels that gaining the same pace as before will require patience, diligence and hard work. He says, “Once the nation gets a control over this unfortunate issue, the entire restaurant and bar will face a colossal task to re-establish themselves and gain back the glory it had before the commencement of this pandemic. We will have to ensure that all staff members are completely out of danger before starting the operations. Safety and hygiene measures will be the topmost priority.”
Due to the severe negative impact on the global economy and wealth erosion, there might be a shift towards conservative spending believes Zorawar Kalra of Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd . He says, “It will take several months for things to return to status quo. But we are hopeful. As all businesses, we are looking forward to opening our doors to welcome our patrons only when there is complete safety for our guests and colleagues and once the authorities give us a green signal. During the lockdown period we are utilising our resources and infrastructure to focus on charity by feeding the needy.”
While hygiene and customer’s safety will be the topmost priority, restaurateurs are brainstorming on finding ways to get back their patrons. Amit Bagga , co-founder, Daryaganj says, “ The restaurant will be also be organising special contests and events and other activities to attract more customers when it reopens. However after the restrictions end for restaurants to open, which could be another 2 months from now, it would take a further few months after that for the restaurant footfalls to come back to normal.”
Measures to ensure that social distancing is maintained even after the lockdown ends, some have started planning the seating plan to maintain it. Inderjeet Singh Banga, founder, Prankster and Pra Pra prank and also Gurgaon Chapter Head, National Restaurant Association of India. He says, “We shall first be making a social distance dining for patrons by operating every alternate table and creating more space between tables. We will be further improving the hygiene practices by including masks, hand gloves and sanitisers for staff , on priority.”
Despite the tough times, there is a ray of hope for restaurants to get back into action. “The first two weeks will be the best time of business for restaurateurs, feels Priyank Sukhija, MD and CEO, First Fiddle F&B Pvt Ltd. However, he also says that when the situation gets better, restaurants are going to be the last ones to open, and further adds, “In case, the restaurants open with restrictions, it will be very difficult to survive as per the current market scenario. We can only hope that the landlords cooperate in our tough time. During that time, we will have to dedicatedly work on the hygiene level of our restaurants.”
Post Covid-19 the restaurant industry will be significantly different, and many diners would prefer to go out for cocktails than food once life comes back to normal believes, Akash Kalra, MD of The United Group. He further says, “The restaurant sector will have to struggle to cope by coming up with flat discounts and deal to lure customers and patrons again.”
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