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Impact of COVID-19 on the Restaurant industry

"I think the Hospitality industry in general and the restaurant industry, in particular, will need a minimum time period of a year to revive," assess Ankit Bansal, Managing Director and CEO, Bansal Foods as he shares his thoughts on how deeply the Restaurant business has been impacted.

TT Bureau: How do you see the impact of Covid-19 on the Restaurant industry?

Ankit Bansal: At the present moment, it’s hard to gauge the cumulative losses suffered by the Restaurant industry only in monetary terms. Nonetheless, they are staggering. We are approximately a 50 billion-dollar industry across the country, but now we are facing a huge deficit. Because of this pandemic, every individual will try to limit eating outside, and this will directly affect us. It will result in a loss of demand in the market so the revenue of the business will fall. But there are operational expenses that can’t be reduced in relation to the ratio in the decrease in demand.

TT Bureau: It is widely said, “The pandemic will change the way we do business.” What changes do you think this pandemic will bring to the Restaurant business?

Ankit Bansal: This pandemic will change the ways different industries operate. I will mainly address the Restaurant business here. I think the permission to open a dine-in restaurant won’t be available for a long time. Further, it will be hard for foodies to come out for dining in restaurants for a while. Still, we are preparing ourselves for some major changes.

We are introducing digital menus in our restaurants in which there will be QR codes on all the tables. Costumers just need to scan a QR code and the restaurant menu will be available on their mobile screen so that they can directly select and place their orders. The orders will be directly sent to the preparation department of the restaurant.

Chefs will prepare food as per the standard operating procedure (SOP) and then the order will be placed on the tables. When customers complete their dine-in, they can directly pay their bills through their mobiles. There is no need to touch any bill or cash. We are also planning to reduce the seating capacity by up to 50% so that social distancing can be properly maintained. The main thing is to prepare for a contactless dining experience for the guests.

TT Bureau: What time frame do you give for the Restaurant industry to revive?

Ankit Bansal: I think that this is a very tough time for all restaurateurs to survive in the current scenario. I think the hospitality industry in general and the restaurant industry, in particular, will need a minimum time period of a year to revive.

There are many reasons behind this. The Restaurant industry is not the primary need of any individual; it is a secondary need. We can say that it’s just a part of the lifestyle. It is not a need. So everyone will concentrate on fulfilling their basic needs first. Only afterwards, will they turn to a lifestyle of luxury expenses. So, I think, it will take a long time to revive the Restaurant industry.

TT Bureau: What are some of the new standards operating procedures that will be implemented to ensure Covid-free offerings and address issues of guest safety and hygiene?

Ankit Bansal: Contactless dinning with an emphasis on maintaining social distancing will be the priority. We are going to start a totally IT-based network for a new dining experience. A physical menu will be replaced by a digital menu. All serving and cooking staff will follow all the necessary safety measures. Staff members will be asked to wash their hands every 20 minutes with soaps and sanitisers. Wearing caps and masks will be necessary. We are going to sanitise the restaurant area every 30 minutes, especially the most-used surfaces like door handles and tables. We will promote digital payments option up to the maximum level possible so that there is no exchange of cash. This will also help us to maintain social distancing and contactless dinning.

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