COVID -19 has forced many businesses to relook at their work models. Several dine-in restaurants who dared to open after the lockdown was lifted, did so just to test the waters and keep themselves plus their staff motivated. Most others are sticking to offeringtakeaways. Low profit margins have forced many food and beverage outlets to think of more innovative ways to boost their revenue
Following the mantra of innovate and adapt, the smaller players look forward to better times. Sravanti Kumar who used to run Nawabi Palatte in Somajiguda says she has had to shift to selling traditional pickles and ghee. Sravanti who also runs a boutique says, “It is not possible to take orders and risk my craftsmen and customers. So I am concentrating on the pickles and home-made ghee which we use in cooking. For now, we are even doing door delivery. We decided to sell ghee made from our farm cows and buffaloes because we are not using them at our restaurant.” She’s happy that bigger players have adopted innovative ways, which gives hope of businesses bouncing back any time.
Takeaway options at several stand-alone restaurants are getting mixed reactions depending on the menu they offer. “The days of the week also matter. Though weekends show more traction, sometimes mid-week business also surprises us,” says says Nishant.
Luxury hotels in the city too have started dining packages. Sheraton, Le Meridian, Westin Hyderabad Mindspace and Marriott Hyderabad Hotel have started Marriott on Wheels’ package. with a compact menu comprising a selection of their choicest dishes including Indian meals, fresh bakes, desserts in Pan-Asian or western cuisine.
As takeaways pick up, restaurants are looking at their own delivery fleet instead of depending on delivery partners. “That way it became easy for us to save the jobs of waiters. Thankfully for us, the boys were more than willing to adapt to the temporary arrangement. Those who have two-wheelers go out on deliveries with all protective gear in place. Their safety too was to be kept in mind. All deliveries are on no contact baasis,” says Nishant Sinha of Roastery coffee house.
To avoid problems with delivery partners — eateries are at war with delivery partners like Swiggy and Zomato over their exorbitant delivery charges — the European syle bakery Ofen started its own food ordering app. Bosco Malapati, the man who established Ofen says, “There was no point in running a business without making profits. My target is not just to keep the brand alive, but also to make enough money that’s required to stay self-sufficient. Establishment costs are fixed so there’s no other way to make profits. With the app we take care of delivery. We have also tied up with a few other delivery partners who are charging us minimally for delivery.”
Another popular option for special occasions is ITC’s Gourmet Couch. It doesn’t just come packed nattily with a coaster and menu, it also gets delivered piping hot. “On my birthday, the Gourmet Couch saved me from slogging and still gave us the dining out feel. All I had to do was create an ambience and put in some tea lights. My daughter loved the dinner because it had the luxury tag,” laughs Reena Mehra, a homemaker.
Then there are others offering packages to lure niche cutomers Though social distancing norms are playing spoilsport to gatherings, it has not dampened the festive spirit during Sravana masam. And pray what are Sravana masam festivities without traditional fare like pala thalikalu, poornalu, garelu and pulihora? At Spicy Venue the kitchen staff is happy to cater to orders for such dishes that are keeping them busy. Sampath Thummula,owner of Spicy Venue says, “Households are ordering these special customised packages for Sravana masam celebrations. . The packages are delivered to individual homes. We have also started package orders for food in bulk, which in turn gets divided and delivered to respective addresses. The package order can be customised.”
The Ohris group also announced a new takeaway vertical branded ‘happy takeaway’, which will initially aperate at four locations — Banjara Hills, Madhapur, Basheerbagh and Secunderabad. Guests have the option of selecting from a range of dishes ranging from Indian to Chinese cuisine, rice bowls and family packs.
Taking customisation to another level, Fusion 9 helps diners with a supply of gourmet ingredients. This ‘Fusion 9 Home Kitchen’ concept ensures you have all the ingredients required for a dish, along with a recipe; you can also have on-call assistance. Chef Shankar Krishnanurthy, the man behind Fusion 9 says his idea is to start a larder, from where people don’t just buy high-end meats, cheese and artisanal rice and spices, but also get recipe guidance. “We help them with a recipe and assist them in preparing their favourite dish. For our Fusion 9 Home Kitchen, we have a special charcuterie range which is made to order from the Oberois. We will soon be bringing in artisanal cheeses, rice, spices and a lot more.” The restaurant has also kept their dine-in option open. “The pandemic has literally killed the restaurant business. I don’t want to compromise on quality over price and quantity so we at Fusion 9 are looking at offering newer gourmet experiences.”