Hospitality: When eating out was out of the question


Hotels and restaurants were the hardest hit in the last 10 months, but they have also found new ways to bounce back

From empty hotel rooms to luxurious staycations, the closure of numerous restaurants to the boom in the food delivery business, the hotel and food service industry has witnessed it all during these last 10 months. The year 2020 has been a tumultuous one to say the least, and the hospitality industry has been among the most affected as a result of having to deal with myriad hardships and challenges caused by COVID-19.

Like in cities across the world, several hotels and restaurants in Bengaluru had to shut down, and thousands lost their jobs. Those that opened up post the lockdown found it increasingly difficult to deal with the situation due to the drastic drop in business.

Delivery business

However, despite the continuous onslaught of the pandemic, the hospitality industry has started showing signs of a gradual bounce back, more so during the end of the year. The food delivery business which was started by many restaurants as a means of survival has continue to grow through the year aided by food delivery apps and services. Besides the proliferation of independent cloud kitchens, many restaurants have also jumped aggressively into the food delivery business by setting up their own cloud kitchens.

Bengalureans have also started developing a keener interest in the food they eat, from the cuisine to the health factor. When going out was no longer an option, numerous individuals decided to step into the kitchen and try a hand at preparing their favourite dishes. This led to the emergence of home chefs, who helped cut the monotony of having to cook for oneself every day.

As people began to adapt to this change of pace, staycations started coming into play. Hotels have devised new and unique ways to keep their patrons safe, offering them a multitude of packages and services that comply with social distancing norms and regulations. These safety measures have also encouraged people to travel to nearby destinations and resorts for short family vacations. Slowly, but surely, social gatherings too have started making a reappearance, albeit not with as many people as before.

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Innovations

With the advent of the festive season, hotels and restaurants have gone out of their way to help create positive memories of this year by providing a variety of innovative menus and attractive offers. The patrons have, in turn, contributed by lapping them up. During the last couple of months, the younger population of the city has started returning to their favourite restaurants, bars and micro-breweries in larger numbers and with greater frequency.

While existing restaurants have learnt to run leaner operations, it is the opening of some new restaurants under such difficult circumstances that has been really heartening. These small acts have served as beacons of light during the dark times and have helped rekindle the hope that this resilient industry will slowly but surely be able to return to its former glory.

(Abhijit Saha is chef, entrepreneur chef and F&B consultant)

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