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Restaurants are now down to the waterline

The biggest learning from 2020, restaurateurs say, is to de-risk from a single vertical play.

  • The next two quarters will be crucial for India’s troubled dining ecosystem. Who will emerge as survivors?
  • The next few months will be a Darwinian battle for restaurants—those who can’t optimise costs are sure to sink. However, some are better prepared, having navigated 2020.

It is 8 PM on a Friday. At south Delhi’s Sidecar, a bar, this writer sips from the cocktail inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s love for the Daiquiri—a concoction of fig-infused rum, orange juice and kaffir lime liqueur. Sidecar is spread over two levels, has a library, lounge chairs, bar stools, small and large tables. Today, there are only 10 customers, spread across four tables. That’s unusual for a bar which was recently voted amongst the world’s top 100.

All bars and clubs have fallen silent, not just in Delhi but also in Gurugram, Noida, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, and Chandigarh among other cities as state governments imposed night curfews to contain the second wave of the pandemic. It has meant a knock-out punch to brick-and-mortar businesses that were just beginning to show signs of life after being comatose for most of 2020.

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