Restaurants gear up to launch delivery only brands

By: |
January 5, 2021 3:00 AM

The choice of offerings on your delivery-only menus may get more varied. Indian restaurants are preparing to launch cloud kitchens and delivery-only brands to serve more patrons.

Delivery volumes have increased as much as threefold over the previous year. Representative Image

The choice of offerings on your delivery-only menus may get more varied. Indian restaurants are preparing to launch cloud kitchens and delivery-only brands to serve more patrons. In a pandemic-riddled year when dine-ins and food fests took a backseat, consumers thrived on food deliveries; more people explored the concept which otherwise was subscribed largely by corporates and millennials.

“With the growing urban population, more and more nuclear families and rising double-income families, the delivery market is set to grow,” said Rohit Aggarwal, director at Lite Bite Foods that owns over 30 brands, including Tres and Punjabi Grill. The company has already rolled out four multi-brand cloud kitchens and is scaling them up to accommodate more brands. Delivery volumes have increased as much as threefold over the previous year, Aggarwal added.

Impresario Handmade Restaurants, that manages brands like Smoke House Deli and Social, is toying with the idea to roll out cloud kitchens. Mayank Bhatt, business head at Social said the share of delivery to total sales has significantly grown compared to pre-Covid. In fact, during lockdown, delivery sales were like a cushion to keep the ball rolling. Dine-in revenues have managed to touch 50% as of December, Bhatt said. “We will severely focus on expanding our delivery footprint through existing outlets and may look to set up cloud kitchens,” he added.

A recent report published by Dineout estimates the market share of cloud kitchens to increase to 30% in 2021 from about 13% at present. Pune-based Elephant & Co Gastropub, that started its cloud kitchen brand Kathi Roll Inc in September, plans to open more kitchens in the coming days. Head of operation Sasmit Manjrekar said companies will also recruit new employees to man the kitchens. Until an effective vaccine is in place, restaurants and bars will operate with skeletal staff, Manjrekar said. “Consumers have become more comfortable being indoors”. Although not cloud kitchens, brands like Kolkata-based 99 and Pizza Hut have adopted a different model. 99 operates as a quick service restaurant (QSR) that has provision for limited dine-in and takeaway services apart from delivery.

Designed along the lines of the popular Dollar and Euro stores in the West, every item in the multi-cuisine restaurant is priced at Rs 99. Anirban Sengupta, partner at 99 & What’s Up! Cafe, said delivery and takeaway will be the two “game changers” within the F&B space in 2021 and plans are afoot to open more 99 outlets in the city. Nonetheless, dine-in format is “here to stay,” said Sengupta. “We will keep investing in our proper dine-in format which is What’s Up! Cafe,” Sengupta added.

Pizza Hut India will expand its chain of fast-casual delco (FCD) outlets from the current 68 it runs in the country. FCD stores follow a delivery-first model while also offering dine-in and takeaway facilities. Given that delivery and takeaway are currently contributing over 78% to the total business, the time is ripe for expansion of FCD outlets, which will be the “highest ever,” said managing director Merrill Pereyra. Lounging and partying will have to wait. Deliveries and small catering will lead the trend next year, industry observers reckon.

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