-Swaminathan B (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The increasing trends of demand for ready-to-eat food for breakfast is unhealthy not for the consumers but for the hospitality sector too. R Srinivasan, Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Hotel association notices this trend for the past few years. He interacts with ChefBharath.com on the current trends, COVID challenges and more.
88-year-old Srinivasan, who is in the sector for generation-after-generation notices the decrease in the sale of traditional Indian foods [read Tamil foods] in the state. “Days are gone where breakfast used to be the most happening sale for many hoteliers in the state. However, thanks to the entry of the ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat food are increasing meeting the expectations of the fast-phase life of customers has changed the market dynamics”, he says. According to him, many are thinking consuming in hotels is unhealthy and end up consuming hazardous food.
“The increase of satellite families, lack of work-life balance, odd shifts are to be cited this as a reason. When hotels in Tamil Nadu have some of the healthiest breakfasts like idly, Pongal, Dosa, idiyappam, I find no reason for anyone to go for unhealthy bread”, expresses Srinivasan. Many hoteliers are on the same feeling that consumers consuming packaged food for lunch or dinner is acceptable while daily consumption of packaged food for the first meal is something which not everyone anticipated. However, according to him the business from travelers is still happening and most hotels thrive on that.
The business for the past two years had impacted not just the eateries but also the large organizations. “While the market was coming back from COVID impact, the second wave had created a worse scenario for the hoteliers. I remember such situations happening during the famine that happened in the early 1950s and during the emergency rule in mid-70s”, he recalls.
While most eateries depend on students, office-goers, and devotional travelers, most of them did not happen which had impacted the business much. While the market is slowly coming up, the news and impacts of the new Omicron are also disturbing which is likely to impact the market in a big sense.
Should Hotels Charge Additionally for Chutney and Sambhar?
Asked if the eateries in Tamil Nadu, like North Indian restaurants practice, should charge additionally for chutney and sambhar, Srinivasan said it is next to impossible. “In this current competition, we cannot imagine that even though it costs us. [laughs]. However, actually, a hotelier in Tamil Nadu can never make a profit with every single item as most of the side-dishes are provided along with that. But, during the emergency declared in India, even though, the government had control on our pricing, we were allowed to charge for sambhar and chutney in grams’ ratio”, Srinivasan recalls. He also recalls how some hoteliers downed the operations not able to meet the demands of the government.
Seeing the trend of mushrooming restaurants in every locality, Srinivasan says it is healthy for the industry as a whole. “I am seeing the increasing spirit of entrepreneurship among many chefs and who worked in hotels for many years. The banks and other financial institutions lending loans are also a healthy trend. Even though on the negative side, while many are shutting down, next to the technology industry, I see start-ups in Hotels and restaurant spaces are seeing more start-ups”, he said.
Speaking on the suggestions for those who are entering the industry, Srinivasan advises, “Many see only the positive side. However, they fail to understand the basics of the business. A hotel needs complete dedication and detailing of every single thing that is around them. On the other side, youngsters taking over the business from the family would do it great.” According to him, hotels and restaurants need not market themselves much as providing quality food will turn every satisfied customer into a brand ambassador.
“My biggest advice for hoteliers going through tough times would be: this too shall pass on. Stay resilient and try to use this opportunity to learn, unlearn and experiment with everything in your kitchen. When good times come, things will change”, he concludes.
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