"October will remain challenging for dine-in outlets in Mumbai," said Anurag Katriar, president, National
Restaurant Association of India (NRAI). "I see a staggered reopening. The scenario could improve in November, when capacity will be hiked to 50 per cent," he said.
Mumbai is a key consumption centre, along with Delhi, constituting nearly 25 per cent of the food services market, say experts. Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Ahmedabad make up another 20 per cent of the food services market.
A recent report by the NRAI had said that a third of eateries and bars shut down permanently between April and August.
Pradeep Shetty, vice-president, Hotels
and Restaurant Association of Western India, said eateries would take time to reopen as mobilisation of resources and staff as well as refurbishments of outlets would require attention.
"Many owners didn't get the time to organise themselves after the state announced that eateries could resume dine-in operations in the first week of October. Secondly, only one in three tables can be occupied. That is a big dampener. We don't see a big rush for dine-in services just yet," said Shetty.
Eating out remains a challenge for most food service providers as consumers seem wary of catching the virus. "Confidence in eating out will take time. It is a slow and steady process of winning consumers over. Patience will be needed," said Riyaaz Amlani, CEO, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, and a member of the NRAI.
Estimates peg the share of dine-in sales at 65-70 per cent and delivery sales at 30-35 per cent of total sales for a restaurant.
"The point about delivery works well for the quick-service restaurants
(QSRs), but even they are keeping a close watch on overheads. All players are reorienting themselves to make dine-in safe because getting back these consumers will be critical to the business," Katriar said.
Westlife Development, which operates McDonald's restaurants in the west and south of India, has reopened its outlets in Mumbai and Maharashtra with 42 safety and hygiene measures added to its existing practices.
These processes, said Saurabh Kalra, COO of McDonald’s India (west and south), ensures that food is prepared and served without being touched by bare hands. Contactless operations have also been extended to billing and menu cards, he said.
Already, convenience channels for most QSR chains have shown a sharp recovery since the Unlock programme began in June. Many out-of-home brands from McDonald's to Starbucks, KFC to Pizza Hut are focusing on drive-through restaurants or kerb-side delivery to improve sales.