India-Pak clash: ‘Super Bowl on steroids’ has eateries, bars in India salivating

Eateries said they expected demand for food-delivery favourites such as biryani and butter chicken to peak once the game begins at 8 pm IST on Sunday.
Eateries said they expected demand for food-delivery favourites such as biryani and butter chicken to peak once the game begins at 8 pm IST on Sunday.


  • Restaurants and bars are hoping to see business increase by 15-50% during the India-Pakistan cricket match dubbed as the ‘Super Bowl on steroids’
  • Sales at restaurants and bars have been sluggish in recent months due to high food inflation and the scorching heat

Restaurants and bars in India are banking on the India-Pakistan clash at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the US on 9 June to revive sluggish sales caused by heatwaves, high inflation and the general elections over the past few months. 

‘The Super Bowl on steroids’, as the match has been described to US sports fans, is expected to bring cricket fans in India back to bars, restaurants and food-delivery apps in large numbers. 

Eateries across cities that Mint spoke to said they hoped to see business increase by anywhere from 15% to 50% during the match, which will be played in Long Island, New York. They said they expected demand for food-delivery favourites such as biryani and butter chicken to peak once the game begins at 8 pm IST. 

Brewpub chain The Beer Café expects business to surge as much as 50% this weekend, with India-Pakistan matches bringing in twice as much revenue as a regular sporting event. "Beer is an ideal beverage for ‘watch parties’, and we have been providing experiences to our guests with live screenings of cricket, F1, MotoGP, and football matches," said Rahul Singh, the company's founder and CEO. With 50 outlets across 21 cities, The Beer Café has been running a 10-day celebration in the run-up to the clash.

Another brewpub chain Ph4 Food & Beverages Pvt Ltd, which runs Toit in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune, won’t offer any deals for the match but still expects to see sales jump 10-15% just from screening the match, its director Mukesh Tolani said.

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Table booking and discounts app EazyDiner has tied up with PVR Cinemas, which will broadcast the match live on about 1,100 screens, to offer a 25% discount on food at cinemas. "Everyone is going to come out and watch this match in big numbers, across metros, tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Typically we see record dining-out numbers on Mother's Day but we could well those figures during this match," said Kapil Chopra, the company's founder.

Jasper Reid, founder of Dolomite Restaurants Pvt Ltd, the parent company of Jamie’s Italian and Jamie Oliver's Pizzeria, said both chains will see business shoot up ahead of and during the match thanks to a slew of offers on meal combos. 

"For delivery, we have larger combinations intended for pizza parties during the match. We expect a bit of growth in deliveries and dine-ins," he said. Reid also noted that while home delivery is convenient, many customers prefer watching such a game with a larger crowd.

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During the most recent India-Pakistan cricket match – at the ICC World Cup 2023 in October – Swiggy said in a post on X that it received orders for more than 250 biryanis a minute. However, veg burger was its ‘dish of the match’, with Swiggy saying it recorded a 1,100% increase in orders for the item compared to a regular Saturday.

About 6.5 million online food-delivery orders were placed in India on New Year’s Eve in 2023, according to a report by Redseer Strategy Consultants. This was 18% more than the 5.5 million orders recorded on New Year's Eve in 2022, and the five million orders on 31 December 2021.

Food business wilts in the heat

Eateries have struggled with lower footfalls of late because of intense heat in parts of the country, apart from high inflation and the Lok Sabha elections. 

Revenue growth for quick-service restaurants (QSRs) declined 9% year-on-year in the March quarter, analysts at BNP Paribas said in a report last month. Gross margins expanded year-on-year, but Ebitda margins declined for most QSR firms owing to store-related costs and initiatives such as free delivery to revive demand. 

"Companies have not undertaken any material price hikes and will refrain from doing so in the near term due to demand weakness. However, the firms remain optimistic of a gradual recovery and have not curtailed their FY25 store guidance and capex plans despite tepid demand," the report said. 

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“However, aggregators grew at a much faster pace than QSR players. With consumers now having more options, sales are getting fragmented and the resultant weak sales per outlet is impacting store-level economics for branded QSR companies. QSR chain margins have come off sharply in recent quarters," it said.

A spokesperson for food-delivery platform Swiggy told Mint the India-Pakistan match could surpass even the IPL final on order volume, with a marked increase in demand for snacks and cold beverages. 

During the IPL final, its grocery-delivery platform Instamart recorded its highest-ever orders, and food delivery saw a significant increase in orders for biryani, pizzas and burgers. “Given the intense rivalry and excitement of an India-Pakistan match, we expect a similar or even greater spike in demand," the spokesperson said. 

Zomato did not immediately respond to Mint’s queries.  

Rohit Aggarwal, director at Lite Bite Foods, which runs brands such as Zambar, YouMee, Tres, and The Artful Baker, expects business to increase at least 15% and is tying up with food-delivery company Zomato to offer deals and discounts to customers across cities.

Industry poised for growth

Though business has been sluggish lately, there’s a silver lining for restaurants. The pandemic has led to a general increase in consumption, driven by growing discretionary wealth. 

This trend is expected to significantly boost various sectors, including food delivery and dining out. While India still pales in comparison to countries such as Singapore on this, it still has plenty of room to grow over the long term. 

Mint reported recently that Zomato clocked a profit after tax of 175 crore in the March quarter, up 27% from the previous quarter. Swiggy, however, saw revenue drop marginally to $1.02 billion in FY24 (about 8,370 crore at current exchange rates) from $1.05 billion in FY23.

Also read: India ordered 2.5 biryanis every second in 2023, says Swiggy; Bangalore declared ‘Cake Capital’

Despite high inflation, extreme heat, and the general elections, some eateries recorded strong business in May because of the Indian Premier League. Murali Krishnan, co-founder and chief marketing officer of QSR chain Wow! Momo said the company’s business grew both sequentially and year-on-year that month. 

"Lunch took a slight hit. However, snacking and late-night orders increased considerably," he said. "Dinner also grew, but the real winner was late-night snacking." The company hopes for a positive second quarter, driven by sports events such as the T20 World Cup as well as the European Football Championship.

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