With patrons wary, restaurants re-think dine-in services


Many restaurants and hotels are reconsidering offering dining in services on account of low patronage and people becoming increasingly wary as the number of COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru is rising by the day.

Vidyarthi Bhavan, a popular restaurant in south Bengaluru, has announced that dine-in service will be temporarily suspended from Saturday. Another popular restaurant, Hotel Sanman at South End Circle, has also decided to suspend dine-in service. These popular restaurants have, however, decided to continue offering takeaway/parcel services.

Arun Adiga from Vidyarthi Bhavan said that they are currently allowing only 40 patrons inside the premises at a time, but this too will stop. “This was in adherence to physical distancing protocols. However, we are finding it difficult to ensure that our patrons maintain distance from each other while waiting outside for their turn,” he said.

Traders and associations in many markets, too, had taken a decision to voluntarily shut down before the government made it official.

Sridhar from Hotel Sanman said that the hotel industry has been struggling even after the restrictions were lifted. “People are just not coming to restaurants, hotels and eateries. Many are doing just around 30% business,” he said.

There are fears of another lockdown in Bengaluru and restaurateurs are hoping to pre-empt this by closing dining-in services.

Up for sale

According to Bruhat Bangalore Hotels’ Association president P.C. Rao, nearly 10% of hotels and eateries in the city are up for sale. “More than 20% of hotels have not re-opened even though restrictions were lifted. There is very little chance of breaking even as there is a drastic decline in the number of patrons. Many landowners have been urged to reduce the rental rate by those running hotels,” he said.

The popular ‘Ingu Tengu’ in Arakere, Bannerghatta Road, is one such establishment that is up for sale. Its proprietor Parameshwar Adiga said it was a hard decision to take.

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“We are hardly seeing 40% business. With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, business is going to be affected even more. While fixed cost and labour cost remain the same, revenue is decreasing. Many are not able to sustain their restaurants in this scenario,” he said.

Reinventing themselves

Some restaurateurs are using this time to renovate and re-invent themselves. Halli Mane, a popular restaurant in Malleswaram, for instance, has deliberately delayed opening its doors to diners.

“Even after the renovation is complete, we will take a call on re-opening based on the COVID-19 situation,” said Raghavendra Sanjeev Rao, managing partner.

They are currently developing an app through which patrons can book their meals from home and pick it up at the designated time. “Once the situation normalises a bit, we may extend this for table booking as well. We are also working on DIY kits, which require minimal cooking. We are experimenting with packaging,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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