Restaurants, which have been battered by a nearly two-month business slump, are now welcoming customer walk-ins but only for their “takeaway” menus, even as they move to list their business on online food delivery platforms.
Some are even drawing up plans to launch cloud kitchen formats as they prepare for a long slump in dine-in operations as the covid-19 pandemic continues to impact business.
Industry experts reckon that it could be a while before restaurants return to normalcy, especially as consumers remain cautious about venturing to crowded places and move away from restaurant food to meals cooked at home.
Cafe Delhi Heights, which is set to open an outlet for online orders, said it will look at using its existing restaurants as delivery-only kitchens. “We have to compensate the loss of dine-in with other sales channels,” said Vikrant Batra, co-founder and director, Batra Brothers Food and Beverage.
Batra plans to resume online delivery at the restaurant chain’s outlet in west Delhi through food aggregator Zomato and Swiggy. It has 24 restaurants spread over three brands. Most of its business is hugely reliant on consumers walking in for a meal. However, the lockdown has put Batra’s business under duress.
As Batra has no clarity on when restaurants will resume “normalcy”, he is also open to the idea of outsourcing his central kitchen to third-party restaurants to keep the revenue stream flowing.
Zorawar Kalra, founder of Massive Restaurants, said that the company that runs upmarket restaurants such as Farzi Café and Pa Pa Ya, among others, is preparing to scale up online deliveries and takeaways. Restaurants will now require “new rules of engagement once the lockdown ends and as they resume business”, said Kalra.
However, both Batra and Kalra feel that online deliveries and takeaways will struggle to compensate for dine-in sales for restaurants.