A new platter: F&B industry gears up for the new normal

1 year ago 79
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As Mumbai began to trickle back to its normal rhythm, the first day of Mission Begin Again saw people step out in Marine Drive for morning walks and as always, the Eastern and Western Express Highways were packed during the peak hours. The lockdown has affected almost every industry in its own way. Now, as the state prepares to ease things, we spoke to a few restaurant owners to know how the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry plans to cope up with the so called “new normal”.

Avik Chatterjee, director, Speciality Restaurants, feels that working capital is one of the biggest concerns right now. Ask him how will the new norm be, and he says, “For the initial months, customers would see lesser people dining (up to 50% capacity). Sanitisers will be present along with table sauces and no contact ordering will be facilitated through tablets. Besides, there will be temperature or health and safety information along with the menu and social distancing lines upon arrival.”

Hitesh Keswani, owner of Silver Beach Hospitality, believes that even if restaurants open, initially, the footfall will be less. “Reinvention and creativity will be at its peak in the post-pandemic era. Trust will definitely be at the core, even over product and pricing. Menus will change with shorter item lists and more locally sourced sustainable ingredients will rule the kitchens,” says Keswani.

So, will profit be the main concern for restaurants? Pawan Shahri, managing partner at Butterfly Fly, The Bigg Small Café + Bar, and Oi Kitchen and Bar, feels that for hospitality business it will be majorly about “sustainability over profitability”. He says, “To adapt to this situation, we will have to educate the customer about the safety measures about eating out, which will require a lot of clear and transparent communication to the public.”

Speaking about how will the new normal be, Shahri shares, “While there are limited guidelines from the government on overall opening up the operations for restaurants, I feel it will be a few months till the customers start to freely dine-in with restaurants. We’ve geared up our teams with substantial training for deliveries, usage of safety equipment like gloves, masks, etc. and are taking all preventive measures to avoid any contact. We can definitely see consumers wanting to step out and being in open environments vs confined spaces. So, restaurants while ensuring social distancing in their current spaces, will also need to plan for a lot of at-home experiences for their consumers.”

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