Vikrant Batra, founder of restaurant chain Cafe Delhi Heights, wanted to dine out on Tuesday, but considering the night curfew and other restrictions in Delhi/NCR he sent his driver to his cafe to collect food instead. He now expects a lot of people to similarly choose to eat-in on this New Year‘s Eve as well.
With stricter curbs and night curfews across states following a spike in Covid-19 cases, most restaurants are doubling down on delivery efforts and their cloud kitchen formats as eating out sentiments get hit.
“From the first lockdown, we had initiated getting into deliveries. The second lockdown was much more encouraging. It has now become a permanent fixture for us through aggregators for maximizing our economies of scale and this would also be the future,” Batra told ET. “We will launch Juicy Lucy burgers, a pure cloud kitchen brand from January 1.” He already operates cloud kitchens for Cafe Delhi Heights and BakeHouse Comfort chains.
With most chains preparing for an uptick in deliveries, delivery players such as Zomato and Swiggy are expected to get roaring business on the New Year’s Eve, industry insiders said.
Dinner accounts for over 70% of the day’s business and deliveries will naturally benefit as a result of these restrictions, said Zorawar Kalra, managing director of Massive Restaurants that runs brands such as Farzi Cafe, Masala Library, Made in Punjab and Bo Tai.
“We are going to be ramping up our delivery outlets at double the rate now and all existing restaurants will also be retrofitted to deliver,” he said. “We will also be expediting the launch of two more delivery brands in very popular categories.” A Zomato spokesperson said the company sees new benchmarks being set at this time of the year as more and more people rely on food deliveries. “We expect this year to be no different and are fully geared for it. We have expanded the capacity of our delivery fleet and our support and operations staff to ensure customers have a great experience on the platform,” the person said.
A spokesperson of Swiggy said in addition to making a wide range of restaurants available to users, the platform is working with its partners to plan for the increase in demand to ensure customers have access to their favourite restaurants and more choices this New Year’s Eve.
Rohit Aggarwal, director of Lite Bite Foods, said, “Wherever it will be possible for us to run our cloud kitchens till late, we will do so. We have about 10 cloud kitchens in Delhi/NCR and five in Mumbai. I think celebrations will start early and catering may not be possible so a lot of food will be ordered in.” Lite Bite Foods operates brands such as Punjab Grill, Tres, YouMee, The Artful Baker and Zambar.
Aggarwal said the chain has its own delivery boys and it’s adding more hands to the team. “Aggregators might get busy and riders may not be available at times… We will push our own boys to deliver at such times,” he said.
Priyank Sukhija, CEO of First Fiddle that runs brands such as Lord of the Drinks, Cafe JLWA, said he is seeing restaurants ramping up on deliveries.
Sukhija is also the Delhi chapter head for National Restaurant Association of India. Shivanand Shetty, president of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said ever-changing notifications will confuse consumers and more people will order in.