Curbs on dine-in till April 30 will cripple industry, say restaurants

As services shift to take-away and delivery-only until April 30, management of restaurants and cafés are staring at significant losses to their business.

Stopping dine-in services at restaurants in Delhi under the new Covid-19 restrictions is expected to have a “crippling” impact on the industry.

As services shift to take-away and delivery-only until April 30, management of restaurants and cafés are staring at significant losses to their business.

At Connaught Place, some restaurants like The Imperial Spice are preparing for the worst-case scenario. M S Rana, corporate general manager at the restaurant, said business had already started dipping in the last week as Covid cases started increasing.

“Today’s announcement is important as it is aimed at saving lives. Not every restaurant at Connaught Place has the infrastructure required to shift to delivery services. Our major source of revenue is from customers who choose to dine-in. If the restrictions continue for a long time there is a possibility that it might lead to closure,” he said.

Rana’s concerns were echoed by others in the hospitality industry, including Matt Chitharanjan, co-founder of retail cafe chain of coffee roasters Blue Tokai.

“Delivery is only 30% of our total outlet sales and when combined with the hefty commission charged by the platforms for delivery services, it is not even close to being sustainable to operate on delivery only, as the revenue will be a fraction of the overheads — salaries, rent, etc,” he said.

Chitharanjan added that the Covid-19 situation across the country is worrisome and something needs to be done to reduce the stress on the healthcare system, but keeping such restrictions in place for a long period of time without any support will have a negative impact on the hospitality industry and on the millions who depend on it.

Independent restaurants like Evoo Eatery and Pizzeria at Malviya Nagar, which are currently not on delivery platforms but offer take-aways, are working out plans to sustain themselves over the next few months.

Sachin Grover, founder of Evoo, said the new surge in coronavirus cases has already started impacting them with a slump in the number of walk-in customers and take-outs.

“Our two main targets in the coming days would be to stay afloat and also make sure that we do everything possible to build the confidence of our customers in us,” he said.

Many restaurant owners expressed a lack of optimism following Thursday’s announcements. Zorawar Kalra, founder of Massive Restaurants Private Limited, which owns brands such as Farzi Cafe and Bo-Tai, said the new restrictions will be “absolutely crippling” for the industry.

“With eating out banned in Delhi and the weekend curfew, most restaurants will have to shut down operations as takeaway and delivery cannot yield in a sustainable business environment. A sale drop of 80-90% is expected as a result of this. This will mean the end of the road for a lot of restaurants and a huge resultant loss in employment in an industry which is the second largest employer of human capital in India,” Kalra said.

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