Restaurants adapting to the new normal

Restaurants adapting to the new normal
Restaurants adapting to the new normal

Even after Telangana Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced lockdown relaxations and gave a go ahead for food outlets to resume deliveries and takeaways, many standalone restaurants and hotels are wary of opening immediately.

Even after Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced lockdown relaxations and gave a go-ahead for food outlets to resume deliveries and takeaways, many standalone restaurants and hotels are wary of opening immediately. The owners of popular bakeries and food outlets say its important to take required precautions before jumping upon the bandwagon. Safety of customers and staff has taken priority. Those who have started the operations have done so with a limited menu, to begin with.

Owner of the popular south Indian speciality restaurant Spicy Venue, Tummala Srinivas Sampatsays he will only open takeaways in the first week of June. "We have to be very careful before we resume the service. We are gearing up to set up new SOPs. We must anyway carry forward the already existing FSSAI requisites; in addition, we need to factor in the WHO regulations. We have to follow precautions at three levels – We have to be careful while choosing the vendors, and then follow standards to store and use the raw material. We are training our team to follow safety norms while at work. We will be giving them a face shield, mask and gloves while working, and they will be given a gown too; not the PPE variety, but the one that will protect them. We will also be including an instruction note in the delivery, for customers, telling them how they must sanitise the pack, open and take out the food. All these processes in place not just ensure hygiene and protection, they will create a level of confidence in our customers."

Sampat says they are also in talks with the aggregators to ensure the latter does not recruit any delivery boys from the containment zones and take necessary precautions, like sanitizing and checking for temperature etc.,

"Menus will become shorter. Only the favourites and popular dishes will be made available," he adds.

"We are only selling breads, cakes and biscuits being produced in our factory where stringent processes are in place. Every vehicle is fumigated, strict control is exercised on who enters the premises etc. We are yet to work on other items like pizzas and burgers," shares, K Sandeep Reddy, owner of KS Bakers.

"Earlier people used to check our cake album physically, but now they can log into our site, which will be operational in a day or two, and choose their order." Heis providing gloves and sanitisers, and checking the temperature of walk-in customers before letting them in. The delivery staff are also checked, and a shield and mask are given to them. The customers need to scan code before entering and before leaving the outlet. "This gives us an idea about how much time a customer has spent in the outlet and who else was there during the time. Eight of our branches have opened on the first day and we will be following the alternate-day rule for our other outlets. Two of our branches in containment zones will stay closed. On day 1, we had 4-5 customers and I am personally monitoring that safety norms are strictly followed.," he states.

Meanwhile, a few star hotels like Mercure Hyderabad have been making the limited number of dishes available but only as a takeaway option during the lockdown. More are expected to join with delivery apps operational.

Amrish Shah, director of popular ice cream brand, Cream stone, says people have not yet warmed up to ordering online and are preferring to come personally to pick up. The brand is currently only selling icecreams and is operating with limited staff and with the new SOPs in place, which include the staff washing hands every 20 minutes and checking temperature every three hours, and since the items are frozen and below 20 degrees, the packs are safe to handle. "We are watching the progress and will see how things turn out in a week or two. Our main business happens during nights, and with curfew on, that is not an option," he says.

Evidently opening only for deliveries and takeaway is a costly affair for full-fledged restaurants, and hardly profit-making. Yet, many are gearing up to introduce changes and adapt to the new normal.

Uttam Reddy from Rayalaseema Ruchulu shares, "Just deliveries with many restrictions of timings etc., won't make sense for us to open as we have huge monthly overheads. We need to open for lunch and dinner to help us sustain costs."

"Dine-in with time and limit to entry restrictions may open in the next phase and malls and bars would come next," he adds.

Throwing open the doors of restaurants for the customers is going to happen in a phased manner, and with it will come a new set of challenges. However, with the help of technology and introducing new processes, the industry is getting ready to face them, and survive the Corona times.

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