How has the covid-19 pandemic changed the flavor of the restaurant sector? What changes have you introduced at your end?
Not just hospitality but every single industry has been gravely affected due to Covid-19. Giving to the pandemic, we have taken some important measures for our staff and senior team members and have made them stay quarantined at our Hotel Le Sutra from the first day of the lockdown to maintain the utmost care and cleanliness discipline. These staff members are trained to practice the best-in-class safety measures like periodic temperature checks, sanitizing the restaurant premises at regular intervals, using face masks and hand sanitizers, etc. We are also sanitizing the packaging material and the kitchen area at regular intervals along with the bakers and the staff following proper steps of sterilization. We have set up hand sanitizing stations at the restaurant for our staff and delivery people to sanitize their hands before handling the food package. We also make sure that none of the staff members touches the food after packing it. We check the temperature of the staff and the delivery person and also make sure they are wearing the mask and gloves while maintaining a one-meter distance. Plus, we were the first restaurant to have an ISO 9001 certification and have been following these rules for 15 years.
We have seen that with covid-19 pandemic restaurant brands are now focusing on delivery and cloud-kitchen business. Do you think going forward this will be a megatrend?
As the restaurants aren’t allowed to open up for dining, deliveries and cloud kitchens will witness a considerable amount of rise as we all adapt ourselves to the new normal. The introduction of smaller restaurants, QSR models and drawing their focus towards home deliveries as it will play a significant role in revenue generation and won’t be just an add-on service anymore.
What are the numbers of delivery orders you are doing on average? What is the average ticket size?
In the initial phase of the lockdown, we witnessed a considerable amount of rise in online orders. Online sales picked up a lot of demand due to our loyal customers and also through word of mouth. There have been times where all the products at the restaurant have been sold out. The people around here mostly like to order Keto meals, varieties of bread, sandwiches, donuts, and desserts. They also love our range of mustard sauces that can be added to the sandwich or salad. But with the introduction of several other restaurants in the market, our sales count was impacted and had fallen by 15%. To come to an average ticket size for Out Of The Blue and Deli By The Blue, currently, the sales count is rounding up to 22%.
It is believed that when one is ordering online, packaging has to be taken care of especially during the current time. What measures you are taking?
The staff members are trained to follow all the required safety guidelines. As mentioned earlier, the restaurant premises, kitchen area, etc. are sanitized at regular intervals. We are also sanitizing the packaging material and the kitchen area at regular intervals along with the bakers and the staff following proper steps of sterilization. We have set up hand sanitizing stations at the restaurant for our staff and delivery people to sanitize their hands before handling the food package. We also make sure that none of the staff members touches the food after packing it. We check the temperature of the staff and the delivery person and also make sure they are wearing the mask and gloves while maintaining a one-meter distance.
We have also seen more and more restaurant brands are coming up with immunity-boosting food. Do you think it’s a new age marketing practice?
As our immunity keeps the body strong to fight diseases, the introduction of immunity-boosting food in our diet is of utmost importance in the current situation. Out Of The Blue and Deli By The Blue also introduced Immunity Booster Combo meals in Veg and Non-veg variants at an affordable price range. These combo meals are a perfect amalgamation of all the key ingredients providing the right nutrients that keep our immune system strong and illness at bay. This is not mere marketing practice but also a necessary step to introduce immunity-boosting dishes on the menu.
You have also launched covid-19 protection food kit. Tell us something about it?
The outbreak of coronavirus has twisted the whole plot of this year and has introduced a new type of normalcy for people to adapt to. This is why we all need to follow the safety and sanitization standards to safeguard us from this virus. While this pandemic is here to stay for a while, Out Of The Blue and Deli By The Blue has come with a quirky way of spreading the awareness of following the safety protocols with the introduction of their COVID-19 food kit! This COVID-19 food kit comprises of bread in two flavors of herbs and sun-dried tomato in the shape of a facemask, a Peri Peri dip, or Cajun Cheese sauce in a sanitizer bottle, and mini chocolate-flavored desserts with a hint of cardamom and soft marshmallows depicting the image of gloves! All the items are vegetarian and the kit is priced at an affordable range. The inclusion of one bread will be priced at INR 225 and 2 pieces of bread will be for INR 320 wherein you get to customize and pick the flavours as per your liking!
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When can we see restaurants opening their doors in Mumbai?
Considering the current scenario, I believe we will not be able to open the restaurant for dining for the next few months. Although there have been rumors of the hospitality industry to open up. But for restaurants that are doing well in terms of home deliveries and takeaways, they wouldn’t want to open up soon as it is risky to do so with no facility to quarantine their staff. Plus it is not safe for people to gather up in large numbers until the vaccine is out because even if one person is affected, the others who are in the vicinity also hold high chances of getting affected.
What’s your expansion plan?
There are a few plans that we have chalked out but all of those are on a halt. Currently, survival is of utmost priority. This time is about supporting each other and staying strong and positive as we all will sail through this eventually. We all are in this together and we need to be more humane and shouldn't think of generating profits at this point or picking up the business as it is more important to help as many people in need than make money during these difficult times.
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