“We did not know what to expect. Neither were the guidelines laid out as specifically initially,” reasons Apurv Kansal, Partner, Dilli BC candidly.
But things eventually started becoming clearer with the safety and hygiene guidelines that followed through in the coming days. The restaurant has 11 outlets in the capital, out of which two are dine-in restaurants and the rest are for food delivery. During the ongoing lockdown period, Kansal resumed delivery services and consolidated operations of multiple outlets into one as per the region. “So we have one outlet each right now in South Delhi, West Delhi and Gurgaon as opposed to normal times. That made more sense as order flow is less and there is lesser traffic than usual,” he adds. Kansal’s orders have dropped significantly with 150-160 orders now being serviced daily, on an average, as opposed to 600-650 orders in a day.
The F&B sector has been severely impacted in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis with in-dining restaurants being shut and restaurateurs finding themselves at odds to generate cash flows for fixed expenses. Restaurants are now trying to direct attention to food deliveries, which can help them, even if in some limited way, to tide through this difficult time.
As per industry sources, there has been an increased number of restaurants who have registered themselves on apps such as Swiggy and Zomato during this period.
Is it enough?
Food delivery platform Swiggy talks about how they have seen a lot many new restaurants come forward and register, even recently enough. “As the lockdown gets extended further, Swiggy is continuing to add hundreds of new restaurants on the platform that were not available for online delivery earlier. Swiggy is helping many restaurant partners reopen their business (for delivery) by assisting them with the necessary permissions from the authorities and also manage their cash flows better by increasing the frequency of payouts and encouraging them to maintain the highest levels of hygiene,” a Swiggy spokesperson told ET Digital.
Moreover, restaurants following the predefined safety best practices such as daily temperature checks, use of 3ply face masks, frequent hand hygiene and sanitisation of workstations are tagged as ‘Best Safety Standards’, which gives them additional visibility on the app.
But the question that really begs to be answered is that is this enough for a sector which has been lamenting the steep losses in business and consumer activity? Just last month, the industry body National Restaurant Association Of India (NRAI) had written to the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for a financial bailout package, citing that the jobs of over 7 million Indians were at stake.
Given the precarious situation in which the F&B industry finds itself in at present, can food deliveries help, in some way, to dispel the pall of gloom? Anurag Katriar, President, NRAI, offers a calibrated response. He says that although some restaurants are going ahead with food deliveries, the business is so low that the cost of operating that kitchen just wouldn’t be enough. “Where is the volume for such cloud kitchens? Also, how do you run them at this time? The problem of operating the place, getting people to work and supplies coming through are all challenges right now for such kitchens,” he reveals.
Sensing the severity of the situation, however, many restaurants have jumped on to the bandwagon. This, they say, helps them to take care of atleast some costs in the present environment. Kansal of Dilli BC adds that it is helping them to pay some salaries to their employees. “It enables us to offer them something. And atleast they are not sitting idle and have their job duties to fulfill. We are also in talks with landlords to defer rents or to give some exemptions. Most have been cooperative so far.”
His sentiment is reflected even in five star hotel chains which are actively involved in food deliveries now, an aberration from the past norm. They have also tied up with third party vendors to service such orders.
Hyatt, for instance, has partnered with a specialist food delivery service to offer the service in Delhi. They have partnered with Zomato and Swiggy as well to reach a wider audience. “This is an initiative that we started post lockdown as a way to serve our guests. The response has been very positive. We have stepped up the frequency of our usual practices such as handwashing. All food is delivered in sealed containers and our delivery team is trained to minimise any contact,” highlights Julian Ayers, Area Vice President – North India & General Manager, Hyatt Regency Delhi.
Similar is the case with Marriott International which has come up with special food delivery menus to service guests during the lockdown. Under the ‘Marriott on Wheels’ initiative, the hotels are delivering within close radius in cities pan-India and ensuring stringent checks while packaging, preparing and delivering the meals.
Khushnooma Kapadia, Area Director of Marketing, South Asia, Marriott International says that they have seen a pick up, especially around festivals like Bengali New Year and Easter and for special occasions such as birthdays. “There is a fair amount of resurgence. We need to find ways and means to be creative right now. Going forward, such options will become hugely popular. People will obviously experience some level of fatigue and would want to pamper themselves with such choices. Such situations require a fair bit of agility and nimbleness, which is an inherent part of our trade,” she adds.
The delivery personnel travel in the hotel car – one person per car – and it is delivered door to door with the prescribed sanitation and safety guidelines.
Kapadia highlights that this will be the ‘new way’ to cater to the customer for a while. “A whole new trend may emerge from such practices. We never used to deliver food earlier. So this is a first. It is a new revenue stream for us. And any revenue is better than no revenue,” she sums up categorically.
Source: Thanks https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/sme-sector/from-your-neighbourhood-restaurant-to-hyatt-marriott-everyone-is-delivering-food-to-stay-on-course/articleshow/75192812.cms