HVS Monday Musings: Indian Restaurant Industry – Weathering COVID-19 Storm

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India’s restaurant industry has been on a rollercoaster ride, with several lows and some highs since the start of the pandemic. The strict lockdown regimes of the first and second pandemic waves in the country have had a severe and lasting impact on restaurant culture, with industry associations estimating that 25-30% of outlets have closed in the last one. year. However, with the easing of restrictions over the past two months, the restaurant industry is gradually getting back on its feet, although subdued customer sentiment towards dining out remains a major obstacle.

After the initial shock of zero demand and footfall in the first lockdown, the industry quickly hit the reset button and reinvented itself, having learned the hard way that the only way to survive is to adapt quickly to changes. changing times. Whether it’s following strict cleanliness protocols, reducing costs, adopting technology, or introducing new business models focused on delivery and take-out, the industry has adopted several strategies to survive the pandemic.

The most important change is, of course, the renewed and rigorous attention to the health, hygiene and safety of customers as well as employees. The industry has improved its safety and hygiene game by using protective gear for employees, providing UV sterilized cutlery, installing plexiglass barriers to meet social distancing standards and even adopting treatments. of nano-disinfection for all surfaces to make people feel safe coming to dinner. -in their premises.

In the midst of the pandemic, technology has proven to be an invaluable resource for the F&B industry. QR code scanned or scanned menus, online food orders, online payments, and booking and delivery apps have kept restaurant businesses afloat for the past year or so. With food delivery services in the lead, the concept of cloud kitchens – restaurants dealing exclusively with online delivery – has also grown in importance and will remain valuable even after the pandemic is over. These digital tools and new business models are now the industry standard, rather than an exception, due to the rewarding customer experience they provide in a post-pandemic world.

In addition to digital technology, automation is also gaining ground. This is the case, for example, of the Cloves restaurant in Gujarat, which imagined an innovative techno-dining experience, with dishes delivered in covered bowls via a conveyor belt directly from the kitchen, avoiding any human contact. In addition, several restaurateurs have introduced outdoor and outdoor dining options to attract customers. Drive-thru and drive-thru restaurants, helping customers place advance orders with pickup from the comfort of their vehicles, have also made a mark over the past year.

Recent media reports of the strong recovery seen in restaurants around the world, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates recording huge diners surge with ease of restrictions, are also a beacon of hope for the fraternity. Indian. The growing momentum of the vaccination campaign in the country and the priority vaccination of restaurant workers will help alleviate customer hesitation, which, combined with the growing need of people to get back to normal, will contribute to a faster recovery of the restaurant industry. industry.

Additional contributor to this article: Kavya jain, Intern at HVS ANAROCK

President (South Asia), New Delhi
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