Every time we step into a restaurant, our taste buds are up thanks to the aroma and flavour of the delicacies. We are then greeted by a babble of talk from fellow diners, clinks of cutlery on tables and the synchronised rhythm of waiters dashing across the floor with steaming dishes in their hands. But today, in a world plagued by the pandemic, restaurants in Chennai have shut down and are fighting for their very existence. Few are offering takeaway meals. We spoke to restaurateurs to shed light on the impact of the lockdown following the pandemic and new changes to expect in our dining experience post the crisis.
Girish Subash, managing partner at Fond-of-ue and Fromage — the city’s first cheese-themed restaurant, says, “What every owner is doing right now is watching one webinar after another, hoping to learn ideas from hospitality business experts and get some direction.”
He speaks about the hardships his team faced during the initial days of the lockdown. “We were open for takeaways for the first three weeks,” adds Girish. “But we were burning a big hole in our pockets as the supply chain was disrupted, increasing the cost of ingredients and making it hard for us to purchase essentials,” he points out. However, the entrepreneur is hopeful. “As the government has now given some guidelines for businesses to open, we are confident to start again by the end of this month as our staff will be able to move and the supply chain market may be sorted too.”
Girish reveals how the future of dining may look like for the next few months. “Restaurants will stick to WHO rules and follow best safety precautions. The seating capacity will come down as we need to adhere to social distancing norms,” says the entrepreneur. On the newest eating trend that has gripped the city, Girish speaks on DIY meal boxes. “Restaurants have so much stock left as walk-in dining is shut. Hence, they are opting to sell food via unique offerings like DIY meals as people have time to cook,” he says and adds,“Once the supply chain market picks up pace and the cost of ingredients returns to normal, we need to see if DIY meal boxes still exist and continue to become a lucrative option.”
To learn about the current scenario faced by bars in the city, we spoke to Zahir Naina, director of operations and business development wing of Radio Room in RA Puram and Broken Bridge Cafe.
“Bars are places where you hang out, chill and it’s always crowded with people standing just a few feet apart. But with social distancing, it’s going to affect us a lot,” says Zahir. “The pandemic has made people realise the importance of cleanliness. I’m sure you will use hand sanitisers before entering a hotel and waiters will check your temperature. The level of hygiene is going to be very high,” shares Zahir.