Contactless dining unsustainable, say top restaurants chains – Economic Times

Restaurant News

NEW DELHI: Large restaurant chains said contactless dining plans announced by food services aggregators including Zomato may not be sustainable and that it was too soon to take a call on the matter, after Zomato called on its restaurant partners to support such a practice after lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Contactless dining eliminates the need for consumers to touch the menu or bills at dine-in and offers to place tables at least one meter apart from each other. In a blog post and series of tweets, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal called upon the aggregator’s restaurant partners to “rethink operations” to suit post-Covid-19 sensibilities of their customers.

“Contactless dining needs to be commercially viable.. if we are operating with all fixed costs at half the capacity, it’s not sustainable as such,” said Sharad Batra, co-founder of fine dining chain Cafe Delhi Heights. Batra said for the sector to return to business as before, it would need support from the government on policies and from landlords on rentals.

Doing away with touching bills or menu are just two elements of social distancing, officials representing the sector said.

“We are in the business because of the vibe and experience we give consumers. We would rather wait for things to normalise even if it takes time, instead of opting for partial services like contactless dining,” said Priyank Sukhija, chief executive of First Fiddle Restaurants which runs Lord of the Drinks and Warehouse Cafe.

“Till we don’t know the extent of the problem, we can’t really define solutions… we will be happy to align with aggregators for solutions but once we know where we are headed,” said Anurag Katriar, chief executive of DeGustibus Hospitality, which operates Indigo, Tote and Dakshin Rasoi. Katriar is also president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).

“We anticipate that the food services industry, specifically the dining out segment, will experience significant and permanent changes in the way it operates. Based on some recent consumer surveys, diners are ranking safety assurance and hygiene as their top factors when they choose a restaurant for dine in,” Goyal wrote in a series of tweets on Saturday.

Till recently, restaurant companies and aggregators, particularly Zomato, have been involved in long-standing disputes over the latter’s alleged steep discounts and uneven commissions.

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