When an owner is looking for a restaurant space, a simple question that strikes the decision making is that should it be in a standalone location or inside a mall. While many restaurateurs are looking for self-contained square footage, others are better served by getting set up in a shared space, like a shopping mall. Back in normal times, mall location used to be the safest option for any owner to invest in, be it a QSR chain, a casual restaurant or even a high-end fine dining restaurant.
But, a lot changed after the pandemic hit, with malls being closed due to virus spread to reducing the footfall capacity, restaurants started facing losses while continuing their services from such locations. During that time, a major transition was witnessed. Restaurants moved out of malls and re-launched themselves in a high-street or high-footfall location where the rentals were reduced drastically.
But with things looking back to normalcy, what do restaurants think of the mall location amd above that are the owners and mall developers witnessing any change in enquiry rates? We explored.
“People are back in malls, they are back to shopping. We are seeing an increased footfall. I don’t feel that standalone locations have any fewer rentals however one cannot deny the fact that they are at their all-time low. Many other factors play an important role like if there are no mall locations nearby any standalone restaurant will perform very well, it also depends from brand to brand,” Founder of Honey N Dough Aavika Chhawchharia commented.
Vanita Bajoria, Director, Lord of the Drinks, Kolkata also feels that when it comes to running a successful restaurant, malls and brands have a symbiotic relationship. A mall will always look for brands that have a huge recall value as it wants to pull more customers in. On the other hand, restaurants and pubs mainly want to be present in a mall with competitive shops, as it creates a beneficial buying mindset in the consumer through association.
She informed that the mall management has been very kind. “Considering the pandemic situation, they have provided us with a concession upon the monthly charges. However, post-September the customer visits have increased and we along with management have come to a stable situation,” Bajoria added. The brand, however, has faced a standstill situation till September. “Now, the situation has stabilized, people are visiting malls and we are looking at an increase in our daily customer visits,” she informed.
Nitin Agarwal, Director of Emerald Mall situated in Lucknow is happy to see the brand coming in looking for a location in the mall. He added that food courts in malls are back with a bang whereas the demand for a full restaurant capacity space in the mall is slowly picking up.
When asked if the rentals have been revised, he added that the company is more than happy for a profitable negotiation. The Emerald mall has already onboarded some of the top f&b players which will be announced soon.
Canteen Pub & Grub located in City Centre 1 Mall in Kolkata has witnessed a rise in sales in the pre-covid times. However, when the pandemic started and the nation faced lockdown the team decided to shut doors. Post lockdown, the location has proved its worth over time and have seen the customer base going upwards.
The Director, Swastik Nag informed that the management of the mall has decreased their rentals considering the pandemic situation which the nation faced. In the lockdown days, when there were no customers or sales, the management has considered the situation and has been lenient about the rental charges.
“The Covid situation has affected the restaurant business in every aspect. Many restaurants have faced total shut down where others including us have witnessed a complete stop in sales. However, post covid, our location has benefited us in rising sales and a daily visit from customers who want a good time after a long tiring day,” Nag added.
A spokesperson from Phenoix Mall informed that the malls are becoming a great location for restaurants brands to invest in. Sharing one example of the existing mall in Lucknow, he mentioned that opening a microbrewery inside the mall was a new yet challenging idea, but it came out with flying colours generating a good share of the revenue for both the restaurant owner and the mall developers.
“The current time demands innovation, any mom and pop store kind of an idea won't work now. We are welcoming f&b brands who have out of the box ideas and we are more than happy to assist them as well,” he added.