Will your dining out experience be the same post COVID-19? Concerns, precautionary measures explained

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Published: May 17, 2020 2:06 PM

When the restaurants will reopen, there will be a change in the way they function. More importantly, are Indians ready to dine out as casually as before?

The agreement will facilitate digital ordering and billing solution for restaurants.Even when the lockdown is lifted, there is no clarity as to when restaurants/ cafes will resume their business and let people have outdoor dining experience.

COVID-19 impact: Restaurants in India have severely been impacted during the Coronavirus outbreak and dining out has probably changed for a long time to come! For almost two months, people have been staying inside their homes as the nation went under lockdown and places that allowed public gatherings had been ordered to remain shut. Even when the lockdown is lifted, there is no clarity as to when restaurants/ cafes will resume their business and let people have outdoor dining experience. Now at such times, when the restaurants will reopen, there will be a change in the way they function. More importantly, are Indians ready to dine out as casually as before? Probably not!

With safety at the top of all priorities in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, there is no doubt that people will be wary of dining out for quite some time and even when they do, it may not be the same as earlier. A report in today’s FE Sunday indicates that DotPe’s QR platform is set to enable digital ordering for Indian restaurants in a way that minimizes human touch. According to the report, customers can scan QR code using their mobile phones, check out the menu on the phone and order what they want from the menu. In their statement, NRAI has cited that this enables restaurants to build their own digital platform in which the customer.

COVID-19 impact: Change in business model

With revenues hit drastically, one of major changes that is likely to happen is the change in business and revenue models, a restaurant chain currently has. Home delivery has been picking up in the recent years, but post-COVID-19, it is unclear as to how this will pick up in Indian homes that earlier ordered home delivery frequently. According to Riyaaz Amlani, CEO of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, properties in India are expensive (even costlier than London’s Mayfair) and therefore the revenue-share model or fixed rent payment every month will no longer be reasonable, the IE reported. Since revenues are hit, and about 50 per cent of the revenue goes into rent and manpower cost, the businesses will now have to adopt models that allow profit sharing, said Amlani.

According to the National Restaurant Association of India, the outlook which was positive for this year before Coronavirus has been changed to an extent that the association believes it is now a battle to retain their existence.

COVID-19 impact: Common grounds between restaurants and food service aggregators (FSA)

The hospitality industry had already been hit by food service aggregators like Zomato and Dine out, the IE report said. After more people inclined towards these apps, the restaurant had to partner with them for services. Now as a part of the deal, the restaurant had to provide deep discounts which were beleaguering the food chains and therefore they asked the NRAI to address the concern. Going forward, the report said, it is crucial to come up with solutions that will benefit both the restaurant and FSAs.

COVID-19 impact: Restoring customer confidence by maintaining hygiene, social distancing protocols

With the Coronavirus outbreak, people are scared to step out of their houses and the impact will likely be seen even when the restaurant or cafes resume their operations. Despite eagerness of socializing, people are expected to enter places that have social distancing protocols. Therefore, eateries will have to ensure proper hygienic practices and spacing between people, the report said. Furthermore, citing Sneh Jain, MD of The Baker’s Dozen, the report added, the business going forward will majorly rely on home deliveries and restaurant owners will have to come up with innovative ways to make the arrangements work.

Meanwhile, Zomato had earlier announced that it is looking forward to partnering with cafes and eateries that will allow contactless ordering of food, bill payment and digital menus so that if people visit the restaurant, the human contact is bare minimum. However, Thomas Fenn, who runs Mahabelly restaurant chain in Delhi told the IE that contactless dining really has no meaning in the hospitality sector, as it is a mere experience of sitting with a crowd itself and enjoying it. Notably, in Europe, the restaurant business has reopened and is slowly springing back to normalcy. However, it remains to be seen how people take to fine dining again.

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