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मंदार शिंदे
Mandar Shinde

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Restaurant Business Crisis

The government has partially lifted lockdown after two months and businesses are reopening in phases. However, the restaurant business is still not allowed to operate, except take-away or delivery. There isn't any package in sight for supporting the business either. Take-away or delivery cannot generate enough revenue for this industry to survive. The restaurants are waiting for dine-in customers; the sooner the government allows it the better. Journalist Vir Sanghvi has presented a deeper view into this situation through his article in the Hindustan Times, dated May 26, 2020. The link -

The restaurant business in India lacks public support. Especially, the middle class considers eating out is a luxurious thing to do. 'I can cook a better Biryani or make a cheaper Paneer dish at home,' moms and wives boast proudly and the entire family at the local restaurant eats in guilt, never forgetting the 'right side' of the menu card.

A hidden jealousy and revengeful sentiment has made the great Indian middle class indifferent, rather apprehensive of the survival and prosperity of the restaurant industry. Of course, the industry, too, has failed to establish an emotional connect with the customers.

It's not just about offering discounts or remembering customers' birthdays. The attention when they arrive, the personalized service remembering and incorporating their choices, effective and transparent feedback mechanism can induce a sense of belonging and love about the restaurant among the customers.

Unfortunately, the restaurateurs do not think this could pay them in any way. They consider all these things to be fancy and overheads to the business. On the contrary, my ten years in the food business tell me that customer loyalty depends more upon the way you treat them than the products you serve them. The quality and rates can be competitive and replicable, but your service model can set you apart in the market.

While big brands and star hotels can get away easily on the hygiene and safety part, local restaurants are going to face many challenges in near future. The increased sanitation expenses will eat up their profits or make them lose customers over increased prices. The infrastructure and skill level of employees will hardly be able to handle the expectations of customers graduating from the Whatsapp University. Only restaurants with an emotional bonding with their customers would be able to pull this off in the difficult times to come, I guess.

Hope the pandemic and subsequent market conditions make the restaurateurs and customers rethink about and reinvent their mutual relationship, in a more human and empathetic way. Let the connection step up in the future from kitchen-to-stomach to heart-to-heart.

- Mandar Shinde 9822401246


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