Even as the state government lifted curbs on restaurants and eateries, allowing them to restart with only takeaway and home delivery services, the owners of food joints in Vodadara are in a dilemma.
Most of the popular restaurants in the city are in no rush to begin the home delivery services amid the Covid-19 pandemic and given the costs involved in restarting their services that has been closed since March 22.
Aftab Chakra of Millennium restaurants, which has three outlets in the city, says his eatery will remain closed until June 1.
Best known for its non-vegetarian food, the restaurant has been a popular eatery in the city for the past 50 years.
Chakra says the current relaxation is not a very feasible idea.
“We are not yet rushing in to begin the operations as takeaways and home deliveries are not a very lucrative option as of now. Eating out is always a very impulsive decision by customers. Even though many people may want to eat out after so many days, they are also guarded. We cannot predict if the business will take off immediately. So we have decided to wait and watch until June 1,” says Chakra, adding that while he has been able to send some of his employees from other states back to their homes.
The others who are put up in Vadodara are cooperating during this time, he says.
“We have taken care of their rent and groceries, meals, ever since the lockdown,” he says.
On Tuesday, the owner of Offshore Lounge, a city-based café, Aman Chawla, took to social media to request customers to take a week before placing their orders. Chawla said, “Takeaway is safer than even home deliveries. But it is most advisable to allow the restaurants to disinfect their premises, guide and train their staff with new hygiene standards and plan strategies, stock new ingredients, sanitization equipment and dispose of old stocks. Patrons should ideally wait for a week before placing orders,” Chawla said, recommending that only cooked dishes should be preferred for deliveries instead of raw foods like sandwiches.
Chawla says that the next six months are crucial for restaurants. “We have to devise delivery strategies. Hiring our own delivery staff is more economical than the food delivery apps, who charge almost 24 per cent commission. We will already have to bear a dent on whatever profit we make with the additional expenditure that will go into maintaining hygiene and we are not even sure if people will immediately start ordering,” Chawla says.
For many restaurants, the option of takeaways and home deliveries is a risk. A popular non-vegetarian restaurant in the city, which had a big client base through delivery apps, especially for its mutton dishes is not sure about investing money into raw products at this point of time.
“The relaxation may feel like everything is over for a day or two, but we are aware that the peak is approaching and the cases are going up. People who are craving their favourite dishes may also think twice about ordering from outside. Our bestselling dishes are of goat meat, which is not only hard to procure right now but is extremely expensive. I am not sure I can afford to invest in purchasing meat right now. So I have decided to wait and watch until May 31. We will consider reopening only after the next set of guidelines,” says the hotelier.