Shrinking Menus: Dip in footfalls due to coronavirus pandemic cooks trouble for restaurants

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Published: March 19, 2020 1:35:09 AM

Visakh Viswambharan, director at Bengaluru-based cafe chain Cuppa, said grab and go places have seen a dip of 50%-60% in footfalls while at dine-in outlets, it is sharper at 70%-80%.

Since mid-February, there has been a 15%-20% dip in footfalls across Massive Restaurants. (Representative image)Since mid-February, there has been a 15%-20% dip in footfalls across Massive Restaurants. (Representative image)

As malls and marketplaces see fewer footfalls and the coronavirus pandemic keeps people away, restaurants and small eateries across the country have swung into a “cost-saving mode”. With work-from-home becoming the norm, they’re shrinking their menus and focusing on home delivery. And they’re looking to bring down expenses on both rents and salaries. Visakh Viswambharan, director at Bengaluru-based cafe chain Cuppa, said grab and go places have seen a dip of 50%-60% in footfalls while at dine-in outlets, it is sharper at 70%-80%.

Anjan Chatterjee, CMD at Speciality Restaurants that owns brands like Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta, told FE business is dull with the drop in business, at a standalone restaurant, as high as 60%. “We’re curating truncated menus to avoid wastage and focusing on delivery. We are also checking fixed costs,” Chatterjee added.

Priyank Sukhija, MD & CEO at First Fiddle F&B that manages properties like Lord of the Drinks and Openhouse Café, said the company is citing ‘force majeure’ to renegotiate rents “We are also negotiating better credit terms from suppliers and our staff has co-operated by using their leave during this period,” Sukhija said.

Mihir Desai, owner of Corum Hospitality that operates brands like The Bar Stock Exchange and Bar Bank, said that with sales dropping by as much as 50%, the big challenge is to manage salaries and rent. “We expect to incur more losses in the coming days but there’s nothing we can do,” Desai said.

Karan Khilnani, partner at Elephant & Co Gastropub, Pune, said it would take at least three months to recover from the slowdown since all orders and events for the rest of the month have been cancelled. Ranbir Nagpal, partner at Yazu: Pan Asian Supper Club, Mumbai, and Pan Asian Beach Club, Goa, said business has dropped by 80%. Nagpal said daily revenues are down to Rs 80,000, from an average of Rs 3.5 lakh.

Zorawar Kalra, director at Massive Restaurants that owns brands like Farzi Cafe and Made in Punjab, said there’s no immediate plan to cut the workforce. However, it is looking at cost control measures and plans to approach landlords for a temporary reduction in rents.

Since mid-February, there has been a 15%-20% dip in footfalls across Massive Restaurants. Foreign groups have made heavy table reservation cancellations — as many as 200 in a single night in the first week of March. Kaneesha Shah, founder at Sante Spa Cuisine, Mumbai, said the firm has reduced purchase of raw food items since guests are opting for cooked meals over raw items like salads. Also, employees whose leaves were pending have been told to avail them. Vinayak Gupta, chef and partner at Agra-based restaurant Beep, said sales at same outlets have reduced by 60%-70% and the daily customer count has dropped to 120-150 from 350 earlier.

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