Home / News / India /  Restaurants resume takeaways and home delivery business

New Delhi: Battered by nearly two months of slump in business, restaurants are now welcoming walk-ins with an option to take away, even as they move to list their business on online food delivery platforms. Some are drawing up plans to launch cloud kitchen formats as they prepare for a long slump in dine-in operations as the covid-19 pandemic continues to batter businesses.

Restaurants reckon that it could be a while before they return to normalcy, especially as consumers remain cautious about venturing into crowded places and opting for restaurant food over home-cooked food .

Cafe Delhi Heights that is set to open a single restaurant for online orders after a gap of nearly two months said it will look at using its existing restaurants as delivery-only kitchens going forward.

“We have to compensate the loss of dine-in with other sales channels," Vikrant Batra, co-founder and director, Batra Brothers Food and Beverage, told Mint. Batra plans to resume online delivery at the restaurant chain's outlet in west Delhi through food aggregator Zomato and Swiggy. The company has 24 restaurants spread over three brands, with a bulk of those under Cafe Delhi Heights. Most of its business is hugely reliant on consumers walking in for a meal.

But the lockdown has put Batra's business under duress.

Since Batra has no foresight on when restaurants will resume normalcy, he is also open to the idea of outsourcing his central kitchen to third-party restaurants to keep the revenue stream flowing.

Zorawar Kalra, founder, Massive Restaurants said the company that runs upmarket restaurants such as Farzi Café and Pa Pa Ya among others is preparing to scale up online deliveries and takeaways after nearly two months.

Restaurants will now require “new rules of engagement once the lockdown ends and as they resume business", said Kalra, prompting a company like Massive that has gained favor among diners through its fine-dine experiences at its restaurants—to shift towards delivery and launch more affordable cloud kitchen formats. Online deliveries are a sliver for Massive Restaurants, but that is set to change, he said.

However, both Batra and Kalra feel that online deliveries and takeaways will struggle to compensate for dine-in sales for restaurants.

KFC India’s chief marketing officer Moksh Chopra said that the fast food chain has seen online orders double during the lockdown. Over the course of India's protracted lockdown, the fast food chain has moved to gradually open its restaurants to orders via food aggregator apps. However, the chain has now decided to use its own app and mobile site to allow consumes to opt for "contactless takeaways".

As of last week, over 80 restaurants gave consumers the option to walk-in and pick up their food orders. With new relaxations coming in as part of India's fourth phase of lockdown, more KFC stores will enable contactless takeaway.

“While home delivery is a safe option, we recognized that there are some customers who have to go out for essential works, and some just prefer coming to the restaurants themselves than having a delivery rider come home, so we are catering to these needs," Chopra told Mint.

These changes come as restaurants, battered by the lockdown, stare at a prolonged road to recovery.

Malls and restaurants were among the first casualties of India’s phase-wise closure as several states directed them to shut even before the late-March lockdown hit the country. While the government allowed restaurants to be open for online ordering, restricted movement, lack of raw materials, manpower, and local-level orders prompted several restaurants to voluntarily shut down.

On Wednesday, social community platform LocalCircles said that close to 75% of consumers it surveyed on their desire to eat out said they won’t be visiting a restaurant for a meal in the next 30 days or as and when the lockdown is relaxed further. Half of those surveyed said they feared venturing out because of the scare of catching the infection, even as others remained unsure about spending on eating out.

Moreover, estimates by CRISIL Research released earlier this month said that India’s organised dine-in restaurants are on course to register a 40-50% drop in revenue this fiscal.

Earlier this month, Tata Starbucks said it is opening up for takeaway service, across select stores in cities of Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Surat. This is in addition to the home delivery service, which it resumed last month.

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