Covid-19: QSRs restart dine-in; premium restaurants undecided on contours of ops

By: |
June 9, 2020 2:10 AM

The restaurant designs have been modified to reinforce social distancing and the company is implementing measures like reduced seating arrangements, demarcated waiting spots in queues and controlled customer inflow.

McDonald’s said it has resumed its dine-in services in Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, among others.McDonald’s said it has resumed its dine-in services in Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, among others.

As restaurants gradually resumed operations in certain parts of the country after a lockdown-induced break of over two months, reactions have been mixed. While quick service restaurant (QSR) chains have restarted dine-in services — thanks to their leaner structure enabling fewer staff and flexibility in operations — some premium and casual dining restaurants are still in a fix due to restrictions in business hours and movement of labourers to their native places.

McDonald’s said it has resumed its dine-in services in Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, among others. The company has implemented a 42-point checklist across its dine-in, delivery and take-out services to ensure safety of customers and employees — these include measures like thermal screening of all employees and customers, various social distancing markings in front of self-ordering kiosks, front counter and washrooms, along with alternate table and chair seating arrangements in the dining area. All staff members have also been mandated to have the Aarogya Setu app on their phones.

“Over the years, we have invested significantly to weave technology across our business and in these challenging times have been able to leverage our strong digital backbone,” said Smita Jatia, director at Westlife Development.
KFC said it has opened about 150 of its restaurants for dine-in services. Customers can place orders by scanning a QR code and make payments through digital channels, for a completely contactless and cashless experience.

The restaurant designs have been modified to reinforce social distancing and the company is implementing measures like reduced seating arrangements, demarcated waiting spots in queues and controlled customer inflow.

At Pizza Hut, every store will do temperature checks of walk-in customers and staff. Masks will be worn by restaurant staff at all times. Sanitisers have been installed at key touch points and ordering stations and seating have been re-aligned to maintain social distancing norms. There will also be an extra food service table with each sit-down table, where the food will be placed by staff and the customer will pick it up and serve on their own. “With contactless dine-in in stores, right from accessing the menu via QR to making payments, the entire process intends to be completely digitised,” said Neha, marketing director at Pizza Hut India.

Owners of causal dining and premium restaurants are still deciding on the contours of operation post commencement. While some are looking at resuming services in the next few days, a few others are yet to firm up plans.

Jatin Mallick, chef and co-owner at New Delhi-based premium casual dining restaurant Tres, said the pain points are not being able to serve liquor and to operate with less than 60% seating capacity while maintaining social distancing.

As dinner makes up the lion’s share of the eatery’s revenue, the 9 pm deadline will further hurt business. “With the current restrictions, we are still contemplating whether it is worth opening up at the moment. Currently, we are focusing on home deliveries,” Mallick said.

Joy Singh, co-partner at Raasta & Yeti, said the workforce remained a cause of concern as people had relocated and calling them back was an arduous task. Singh said with brand Yeti, they had decided to continue with delivery-only service and would resume dine-in only after June 30, once the government allows operations with fewer restrictions.

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