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The second wave of COVID-19 has left the F&B industry gasping for breath!

Arundhati Gupta | @notintownlive | 22 May 2021, 10:02 am

The second wave of COVID-19 has left the F&B industry gasping for breath! COVID-19

Second wave of COVID-19 has brought life to a standstill...almost. Shopping malls, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, gyms, spas, sports complexes, beauty parlours and swimming pools have been shut down indefinitely.  The food and beverage industry has been hit hard. Things were looking up post November 2020, and the restaurants were getting back over 50% of pre-Covid business especially through food delivery apps.

Just when the industry business was looking up it was hit by the aggressive election campaigning and then followed the partial lockdown. Now many of the major and small brands are looking into strategies to keep afloat through this trying time with cloud kitchens, more automation and home delivery systems to keep their business running. Many, however, have decided to temporarily halt business and concentrate on up-gradation while others have laid out special menus to cater to their customers.

It is the hope for a better tomorrow that keeps all of us going and that is what  we are surviving upon. Uncertain times it may be, but the owners of Aminia chain of restaurants, Kabir Azhar and Asher Ather, have their own optimistic views. According to Kabir, “It is our sole responsibility to ensure customers get safe and hygienic food at their doorstep. We don’t know when and how things are going to be normal, but we can pray to our almighty and have faith to win this battle altogether. Our patrons can support us by ordering directly".

In fact, Aminia is serving through apps as well. Their Biryanis, Kebabs and Chaaps are major hits. Call them directly or order through apps.

Even Sanjay Chadha, owner of cloud kitchen Punjab Chowk, has decided to keep his chin up and has introduced authentic flavours of Punjab at his kitchen on Jessore Road.

“Being a cloud kitchen, I have introduced stricter rules as per the guidelines laid down for Covid. From social distancing of staffers to daily temperature checks, sanitization process and maintaining all aspects of hygiene is my top-most priority. We will certainly tide this storm,” says Sanjay Chadha.

They are offering buy one and get one free on Zomato from 11:00am onwards on starters, rice bowls and night owls can enjoy an all night special menu.

The food is safe and hygienic from our kitchen and the food is hygienically packed and delivered in a tamper-proof packaging to avoid contamination.

The recently opened sattvic restaurant Gopala’s on Hazra road has kept open for home delivery. They are undertaking orders and delivering all across Kolkata with the help of their staff and delivery apps .Pranita, the lady behind this venture says,

“We have been experiencing unprecedented times. We were recovering slowly but have been thrown new challenges to tackle. However, in these troubled times we are on with home delivery and takeaway options and are preparing hygienic food and maintaining Covid 19 protocols as per West Bengal Government’s guidelines.”

They are offering nutritious thali for Covid 19 patients priced at Rs. 99/-delivery charges extra. A thali offers two rotis, dal, rice, two types of sabji, sweet, and pickle . In case any of your friends and relatives are suffering from the disease and need food to be delivered at your doorstep then call Bikash at 74392 36659 or 99039 42954. A la carte is also available.

There are others who are also willing to make adjustments to keep  fighting the situation and Spandan Sarkar of Ekdalia Cocina is one of them.

He says, “The restaurant business has been plagued by this pandemic and the consequences have been disastrous. Nobody knows what we are going to face in the future. However, living in lockdown and through this pandemic is nothing but a serious adjustment in life. Ekdalia Cocina offers online deliveries and that is going to save me and my team from this phase.”

Of course, there are many problems that others are facing. Lord of the Drinks, Kolkata, is located in a plush shopping complex of South Kolkata and as per the regulations, malls will stay shut until further notice. Amit Bajoria, owner of Lord of the Drinks, says about the situation:

“Things were finally seeing a ray of hope and we were recovering when the partial lockdown was imposed. With the rising number of cases in our country, public safety is of utmost importance right now. At the same time, restaurants like us who do not opt for take-away or online deliveries will be hit hard.”

Restaurateur Siddhartha Gupta, co-owner of Traffic Gastropub, echoes the same feelings and says: “The pandemic did result to a drop in sales but we were still recovering from that and while we were in that process, we have faced another slump considering the fact of the increasing number of covid cases in the country. The impact of the partial lockdown is going to be tough this time.”

Canteen Pub & Grub, located in City Centre 1, Salt Lake, has similar problems. Swastik Nag, the owner of this place, says, “I am hoping for the day when ‘open’ signboards can finally go up on the restaurant’s social media page, post the lockdown, by then we will try to make the dining look very different again.” Sadly, delivery isn’t an option for these restaurants since their location would remain closed.

“Last several months were the toughest moments I faced. I had the responsibility for so many people. But I know I will have to overcome this rough patch. I was optimistic to get back on a good sales position until the news of partial lockdown. I really hope the restaurant industry will again see its peak despite the lockdown. We will bounce back.”says Vanita Bajoria , Director, Hard Rock Cafe, Kolkata.

Even Amit Kumar Modi and Priti Modi echoed similar sentiments while speaking about their restaurant Unplugged Courtyard, Kolkata: “Armed with social distancing and tight safety parameters with extreme food hygiene and innovative menu, we were hoping to make the new situation ‘normal’. The new outlet was ready to floor customers. But the sudden lockdown has been a major setback. We are looking forward to getting over this soon enough and giving Kolkata a brilliant eatery”.

With new strategies and tech, the restaurant business is dealing with the situation with a positive approach. Hope this huge industry will not resort to lay-offs and shutting down once again. Hope is the keyword.

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