The Covid-19 and the associated restrictions imposed at varying degrees by governmental authorities across the world caught most industries and the quasi majority of normal citizens off guard with little or no time to prepare.
From the onset, however, the so-called essential goods were exempted from the restrictions and obviously groceries and bakery items belonged to this category. In India where processed and packaged food still represents a small percentage of the overall consumption, the safe handling of the products represented and still represents a major challenge.
As the foremost supplier of high-end of bakery and confectionary products, L’Opéra, immediately moved to a home-delivery model as early as April 5th, once the required authorisations were obtained and the necessary safeguards were put in place with the security of the customers and the staff, highest standards of hygiene and the associated food safety measures taking front seat in all considerations and procedures.
To this end four elements had to be taken into account: the products, the people handling them, the production infrastructure and facility, and the necessary protection whilst transferring the products from the production facility into the hands of the customers.
“The fact that bakery and confectionary products undergo high temperatures during the production process addresses the first challenge. Strict and repeated health checks of the production staff, isolating them and requiring the wearing of appropriate clothing, face masks and gloves combined with regular washing of hands multiple times during the course of the day addresses the second challenge. Repeated deep cleaning of the production infrastructure including the premises prevents their possible contamination. And finally, the decision to pack every order hermetically ensures full protection during the transport and delivery process.
Finally, eliminating all cash transactions allows a full “contactless” experience whereby the orders placed and pre-paid online or through a dedicated phone line are individually fulfilled and delivered in a “sealed” form at the doorstep of the customers,” said Kazem Samandari, Executive Chairman, L’Opera.
The bakery chain which has over 18 cafes spread across NCR and Dehradun opened only 6 outlets including Khan Market, Civil Lines, Vasan Lok, Green Park, GK2 in Delhi and one in Dehradun to ensure its staff and customers safety.
The future of eating out
This is the one million dollar question and Samandari doubt anybody has the correct answer to it, however, from today’s perspective; the outlook is not nice both for the restaurateurs and for the patrons.
The restaurant operators have to face tremendous challenges in terms of high rentals, strict regulations and obligations regarding enforcing hygiene norms, training of the staff and increased overheads due to the same. For the patrons there will be the anxiety and the fear associated with the risk of contamination whilst eating out and the changed habits during the lockdown which will not disappear at once. I believe it will take between 18 to 24 months before a semblance of normalcy returns to the industry.
Is the delivery model here to stay?
“Absolutely. We believe the future of our activity will be a combination of the so-called click and mortar businesses or in other words online shopping and in-store sales with the first becoming more sophisticated over time and the latter more experiential,” he added.