“We have observed a marked slowdown of traffic at our outlets, without a significant increase in deliveries. This may be due to the uncertainty about opening hours, curfew timings, bad weather and a wait-and-see attitude of patrons,” says Laurent Samandari, CEO and co-founder of L’Opéra, who hopes that more clarity will bring some improvement.
While Samandari is gearing up the back-end and in-house delivery infrastructure including own vehicles, drivers and website to cope with the necessary demand, others are looking to open more kitchens. Zorawar Kalra, director, Massive Restaurants, says, “There is going to be a very huge surge as is always the case when there is a curfew or a lockdown. We are retro-fitting two kitchens to start delivery. We will be geared up for serious increase in volumes and we are increasing delivery hours till 3am. We are also ramping up new cloud openings.”
Another restaurateur, Amit Bagga, co-founder, Daryaganj adds, “We are focussing on deliveries as well since the pandemic started and have 20 percent revenue from deliveries as of now. There is an increased demand for cloud kitchens and we are also planning to do the same to cater to the demand.”
A few plan to come up with special delivery menus along with safe packaging. Vikrant Batra, founder, Cafe Delhi Heights, adds, “With restrictions coming back in the industry, we have to up game the delivery side of our business again. In the first lockdown, we created special delivery menus. In second lockdown, we started our bakery brand and now in the third, we are creating a stand alone brand for burgers. There will for sure be great demand in delivery brands owing to the fact that people will avoid going out for dine ins. We also worked on new safe packaging.”
However, some players who believe that just allowing takeaways won’t help in surviving in the industry due to rents and salaries and may lead to closure of restaurants. “As the announcement today is aimed at saving lives, it is significant. Dine-in customers are the main source of revenue for us. If the restrictions persist for a long time, there is a possibility that it might lead to the closure of the business. With delivery representing only 30% of our sales, and the platforms charging hefty commissions, it’s not even close to being sustainable to operate exclusively on delivery, as the resulting revenue won’t cover our overheads – salaries, rent, etc,” says Mohit Ahuja, owner, Shakespeare Cafe.
Vishal Anand, Founder, Moonshine Food Ventures adds, “Government needs to look at solutions which doesn’t kill businesses yet doesn’t compromise on the safety of people. Delivery can only replace cooking at home and not dine in experience at a Restaurant. For experiential restaurants, delivery can never be mainstream business.”