Eating out is out for many, hygiene top of the mind for city restaurants – Times of India

Restaurant News

NEW DELHI: You need to not only sanitise the table after every service, but also be seen to be disinfecting it. Any staff member, be it security, service, kitchen or delivery, with the slightest of flu symptoms needs to be off duty and to return when fully fit. These are some of the clear instructions that a popular restaurant chain has issued to its staff. With people concerned at the spread of the novel coronavirus, allaying the fears of diners is of paramount importance to restaurants.
The restaurant, which did not want to be identified, said it is routine practice to change the tablecloth, napkins and cutlery after a meal. But guests now expect the whole to be disinfected too, and eateries have to show their commitment to hygiene by doing this in front of diners.
With Covid-19 an ever-present threat, diners are avoiding stepping out for ‘non-essential’ activities, and dining out appears to be a big casualty. Businessman Vivek Mehta who had a busy weekend schedule of birthdays, house warming and Holi parties to attend has been getting cancellation updates from hosts. No one in his social circle, Mehta reveals, is taking chances, no matter how reputed the venue of a gathering.
Restaurants and hotels do not admit this in open, but privately concede to a dip in customers since the first case of Covid-19 in India was confirmed. Business during the week was down 20-25% at some outlets, said their owners. Wariness about packaging and food hygiene has also forced people to curb ordering in. The company spokesperson for Zomato assured, “We are working with our delivery and restaurant partners to ensure proper precautions.”
Chef Shamsul Wahid of Social and Smoke House Deli said strict hygiene procedures were being followed in all the outlets across India. International procurement of ingredients such as meats and cheese has been stopped, food is cooked to 75-80 degrees Celsius, the kitchen is sanitised and disinfected, and hand sanitisers are easily available for both guests and staff. “We are ensuring steaks, lamb racks and fish dishes are well-done, and staff maintain the best hand hygiene while guaranteeing everything on the premises is disinfected,” Wahid elaborated.
Food courts and malls too aren’t taking chances. Jaideep Bhandari of Bhandari Infra, which has food courts at a metro station and a mall, has issued strict instructions to tenants in Janpath, Connaught Place and Kalkaji on hygiene. At his establishments, additional hand-wash stations have been installed and hand sanitisers at within an arm’s reach. He noted that vegetarian dishes are now preferred.
At an event on his premises Prashant Gaurav Gupta, centre head of DLF Emporio and Chanakya, observed people avoiding handshakes and carrying their own hand sanitisers. People are reading about the virus and following precautions rather than stop going out altogether, he said.

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