In a situation where the entire world is under lockdown, many businesses had hit drastically. According to OAG Aviation Worldwide, the travel restrictions on international flights have caused the global airline industry losses mounting up to USD 880 billion. One industry which got hit very badly is the hospitality industry even after post lockdown it’s difficult to operate. While many restaurants didn’t lay off any staffs but salary cutdown was there and we are having a core team in the kitchen to operate and after the normalcy comes all the staff will have work and normal salaries will be back.
According to Asif Ahmed, Partner, Sanjha Chulha, Kolkata, “Before lockdown, everything was different. “But post lockdown everyone has change to their module about how they work and cannot follow what they did before lockdown. People are getting into deliveries more often to manage whatever possible in that time and keeping the business alive”. It is very tough especially people having multiple outlets and we have operated with only one outlet during the lockdown. We are only working with a few staff to cut down expenditure. The response is not very good depends upon people’s psychology and takes time and people will gradually come to dine-in. Closing is not a solution and it is not good for the economy and has to face the situation and proceed further.”
On the way, customers expectations changing, Sai Chand, who is part of various stand-alone Tamil Nadu- based restaurants like White Space Gastronomy, Mad over Madras, feels, “In terms of customer perspective they want to go out after a long lockdown and they are expecting to maintain certain standards and many established restaurants are doing whatever they can in order to bring the businesses back.”
Mohan S Pillai, Executive Chef, KGA Hotels Group, Thiruvalla, says laying off employees is not an ultimate option. “Business is down now and it will start up again and they need staffs and it is sad to see, company owners laying off people and they do all the works through the staffs why they need to do that when there is no work now and it is not the staff mistake.” he concluded.
There are also many restaurant owners who are finding enough creative ways to maintain the hygiene in their kitchen. Asif says, his company is following basic practices mostly focussing on hygiene factors. “We are having a bell at their working place every hour the bell rings so that the staff is reminded to wash their hands and having virtual menu cards which is QR code-based, whenever the customer comes he or she will be provided by VM cards. The customer just has to scan it with mobile phones, the menu will appear and place the order.”, he says.
Many restaurant owners and chefs feel that the way ahead is positive as there is a demand for quality food everywhere. Mohan says, “We might have to go to partial work system, alternative jobs, multiple/part-time jobs to take care of the families and that would be a long terms plan on a chef point of view”. Asif feels things will change slowly by next year. “Guests will comfortable to dine-in once the vaccine for COVID is invented. All the restaurant owners, have to come up with new ways or approach to reduce the overall cost not only by lay-off staffs, also working on spaces, reducing rentals which are the key over-heads ”
On a concluding note, Sai Chand feels that it is not just the duty of the hotelier but also the customer. “We are ready to follow whatever norms laid by the government or any other enforcing body. However, the customers should be made aware of the fact that our safety measures will add up to the cost of the food they consume. Of course the customers might have to pay additional charge for hygiene.” On the whole, some other western concepts like having separate sections for couples, families, lone eaters are also likely to emerge in India in course of time.