Relaunching the restaurant business post-pandemic
Relaunching the restaurant business post-pandemic

In the trying times, restaurant owners are busy figuring out various ways to keep the business running. As the industry is one of the most affected industries due to the lockdown, the revenues are down to 10 percent as sustenance is on delivery only. For brands not into delivery, have been working with zero revenues for a while now and many have closed shutters. During these times, the creativity, willingness to succeed and marketing know-how is the only way for brands to lift up and be able to survive.

For many, rebranding and relaunching are on the cards. But relaunching the restaurant brand is easier said than done and is no different to starting a new business during hard times.

“While restarting businesses, one needs to think and feel the current consumer and plan services accordingly. The idea is to deeply understand consumer behaviour, expectations and accessibility and plan our services accordingly. Looking at the backend, one should all as an industry look at reviewing the rental contracts and keeping the operational costs hand in hand with the revenue targets,” Pawan Shahri founder of London Taxi commented. 

Pawan Shahri and Dhaval Udeshi of London Taxi have founded an incubation program that will enable five entrepreneurs to launch their ideated brands. This not only includes utilising the restaurant’s existing resources, from its 650 sq ft space, head chefs to R&D teams and vendor management teams, they will also post-launch support of marketing, ads, aggregator relationships, finance and accounting.

Can restart learning from the past mistakes

Some restaurant owners feel that any brand that struggled to get momentum prior to Covid has a fantastic chance to reinvent itself as a new brand with a new design and a new product range.

Chef Nikhil Jain, founder of Coppetto Artisan Gelato commented that while relaunching, few questions should be kept in mind. “Is it simple to obtain the basic materials? Is the final product also easy to deliver? To ensure that the brand has a completely fresh look and feel.

And one should assess and improvise from the previous experiences,” he said. 

No-contact takeout and delivery have become the new norm. For the operators who suffered losses because they couldn’t cater to the delivery demand, relaunching may open new doors. One must not ditch the new takeout and/or delivery system as in the post-Covid economy, takeout could be a lot bigger than it was.

Old soul new body

The lockdown has allowed restaurant owners to reflect on their brand journey and recalibrate their efforts and resources to new ideas and things. Revamping brings new energy and the hope that when lockdown is lifted customers will have something new to look forward to.

Krishna Gupta, Managing Director of 1441 Pizzeria feels that rebranding is a great way to re-energize the brand; but one has to be careful that the original identity of the brand - what it stands for is not lost and that customers can still identify with the brand when they return. “Customers appreciate a sense of relatability with their cherished brands and that should not be lost in the revamping,” Gupta commented. 

Throughout the pandemic, consumers have seen many brands talking about ‘unprecedented times’ and touting how ‘we’re all in this together’. Unfortunately, after seeing the same message so many times, it all begins to look and sound all too similar eventually diluting its meaning and uniqueness. Rebranding thus can add a whole sense of newness if the right initiatives are marketed. 

There’s no better time than today to adjust the marketing strategies to relaunch the restaurant business to be relevant to customers and be pandemic-proof. 

Not a 100% recovery route

However, can relaunching or rebranding help restaurants to tide over the crisis? Jain strongly feels that if a brand has had revenue troubles due to Covid, they do not need to adjust their branding strategy. “Relaunching and revamping will incur additional expenditures that are not warranted at this time unless it was long overdue and absolutely necessary,” he commented. 

Many new businesses are well-matched to succeed in economically challenging markets. However, even if the business is not ideally suited to a market slowdown, owners should be able to modify the value proposition to conform to the realities of the market 

Gupta informed that he had considered relaunching certain outlets of 1441 Pizzeria where the company had to move locations on account of rent issues. “Ofcourse, one major hurdle with revamping/ relaunching is the cost associated with it, especially in this market. But we are working hard on creating a new elevated experience at our two flagship stores that will be opening in the month of June at Fort and Lokhandwala with renewed energy and spirit,” he further added. 

Above all, relaunching a restaurant business becomes necessary to keep the restaurant relevant at a time of changing customer preferences and capture a bigger market share. However, it may often come with the risk of losing brand recognition and alienating loyal customers. But with the right strategy and assistance, one can rebuild without losing market recognition.

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