Restaurants gear up for revenge dining; overwhelmed with 100% occupancies
Restaurants gear up for revenge dining; overwhelmed with 100% occupancies

It was a Saturday early morning in Delhi, at around 7:30 in the morning when the roads are all quiet and people have yet not stepped out, a South Indian restaurant in GK was running houseful. And the waiting list? It was as long as an hour, but the interesting part to acknowledge was the fact that people were ready to wait as few came after their morning walk, few were from neighbourhood residences and a few wanted to go out with their family and have breakfast. “We are finally free to dine out after two long years, we don't want to miss a chance of getting out and eat. We’ve been missing a lot to dine out, it’s okay to wait for some time and have a hot plate of ‘Ghee Roast Dosa’ here,” one of the customers standing in the queue commented.

Dining out is finally coming back, and in some cases more aggressively than before. Some call it ‘revenge eating out’. Humans are social animals as they are called and no matter how much the world tends to become a digital savvy ecosystem, getting out and socialising will never die. 

According to the latest report by Dineout, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad have shown the maximum recovery among metros, with Delhi and Kolkata now operating at nearly twice of capacity of March 2021 levels. Among smaller cities, Jaipur and Ludhiana have shown maximum recovery and are currently operating at nearly 2.5 times more of Feb 2021 levels.

The average order value at restaurants (ATV) on the dining out and restaurant tech platform has also increased by as much as 20 percent since February, with smaller cities like Agra (24 percent), Indore (29 percent) and Ludhiana (35 percent) registering the biggest surge in restaurant order value pointing at a much needed release of the pent up demand for good food and socialising with friends and family.

Interestingly, smaller cities like Agra and Ludhiana have also registered the largest average orders of INR 2509 and INR 2766 respectively. This is owing to the rise of luxury and fine dining outlets in smaller cities, and that a significant number of professionals are now working out of their home towns and spending heavily on dining out.

With seating capacity becoming 100 percent, at Kyma, Mumbai, the team is extremely excited to welcome the guests. Talking about how the outlet is managing the crowd, the owner Nikita Poojari commented that they have implemented a slot system in which they take bookings for a certain slot for a certain amount of people. “This enables our guests to have their privacy and enjoy the ambience. We also encourage our guests to make advance bookings so our operations flow more smoothly,” she added.

Another eatery in Mumbai, Donna Deli, launched at a time when the Covid 19 restrictions and curfews had relatively eased out. For the team, it was extremely challenging yet exciting to handle a sold out/ all-booked restaurant.  Believing in team work, the founder Aditya Wanwari started briefings about any mishaps or suggestions the staff would like to put forward because they were doing all the ground work and interacting with the customers. Today, while managing the crowd the Donna Deli avoids overbooking.

Ranbir Nagpal, co-founder of Yazu situated in Mumbai and Goa commented that the restaurants are well equipped to take care of the guests coming in as even during the pandemic the team made sure that all members were well housed and fed.  While operating at its full capacity after a halt of two years, the major concern that the restaurants are facing is about their staff crunch.

“There were some guys who had gone back to their homes since their family wanted them to be back during the tough times but we were always in touch with them and as when the crowd started coming back we made sure that our team came back helping us to make sure that our customers have a great experience,” Nagpal added.

According to Asher Ather, director of Aminia Restaurants, pandemic has been the biggest lesson for the hospitality where the stakeholders learnt to serve people while they were sitting back at home and experienced a reversed effect in dinning. 

“Post pandemic we were all set to welcome people who were all set to eat out. We introduced new ways to pre book the tables ,pre book the meals which might require a lot of time to prepare when they order on spot . We started working on average cover vs the turnaround time. This theory has been well versed amongst our team where they have an idea of how much per table will require,” he Ather stated.

At Aminia, the team is working on recruiting a hostess at each outlet who can interact and take pre-ordered guests and offer them a glass of complimentary welcome drink when they arrive. This can help in a better crowd management. 

Most food lovers across the country have been sitting on the fence for over a year and a half about going back to their favorite restaurants in town. It’s understandable why people are now thronging to their favorite eating joints as the Covid-19 health advisory is lifted, and that they can finally step out, and into restaurants and not be forced to have their meals on their couch. Restaurants on the other hand while went on a scarce dining out option for a long period of time is gearing up to embrace the new normal i.e, India’s revenge dining. 

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