Due to the global pandemic, the concept of dining has changed. We can look at this from two different angles. For a guest, he is unable to now go out as before and dine as he would like to, due to the multiple regulations in place. At the same time, people still want to enjoy the flavours of their favourite restaurants or food. To cater to these requirements, the delivery has now become an essential part of the industry. For an F&B outlet, revenues are at an all-time low due to the new rules and multiple lockdowns. These outlets also need to survive and support their employees and have now pivoted focus to home delivery over luxury as a primary source of revenue just to stay afloat.
Innovating for growth
With all these new innovations and changes we have also seen fine-dining restaurant businesses in India adapt and change as per new requirements. Being one of the most affected segment or I would say a segment that is still trying to fit as per the COVID mode of the business, these establishments are going through a whole new world of innovation.
From India’s top most dining destinations like Indian Accent, Masque and Masala Library to our most loved brands at India’s some of the finest 5-star hotel chains, all are taking a pie into being exclusive.
Recently, Mumbai’s famous dining destination Masque while celebrating its 5th year in the business announced setting up 5 pop-ups in five different cities in India. Known for its 10-course menu and seasonal craft cocktails, the team at Asia’s one of the celebrated restaurant along with its chef and co-owner Prateek Sadhu travelled to Delhi organising a pop-up at The Manor Delhi, soon moving to Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata, concluding the much anticipated food journey in Leh.
Similarly, if we look at the journey of popular 5-star restaurants in this period, they are also adopting delivery model, running a shorter menu, relying much on local and seasonal produce.
“To go for local and organic produce with chefs expertise and knowledge in cooking and designing the menu is what I feel is the future of fine-dining restaurants,” shared Chef, Prakash Chettiyar - Executive Chef, JW Marriott Kolkata by adding that he is trying to keep the menus simple and fresh and adhering to the Marriott and FSSAI food guidelines. “People prefer private dining rooms in general with a lot of importance to hygiene and cleanliness,” he added further.
‘Experience’ at the centre stage
Now as we are seeing that restaurants are back in action and are opening in phased manner in different parts of the country, consumers have indicated that safety and hygiene are their topmost priority while stepping out to dine. “A sharp shift to franchisee and fine dining restaurants and considerable importance given to ‘recommendation from family and friends’ are cited as factors while choosing restaurants to dine,” shared a report by ECG.
As per the study, “before the pandemic, 60% of diners preferred eating in Standalone AC and Franchisee restaurants in Chennai, but that has now changed. Nearly 50% diners now prefer visiting Fine Dining and Franchisee restaurants once the lockdown measures are eased.”
“As our restaurants are opening up, we are seeing the reservations filling up quickly. This could be due to people’s pent up eagerness and desire to step out of homes to look for more experiences. This looks promising as it allows the industry an opportunity to revamp its image to cater to a wider set of audience, particularly the younger generations,” pointed Manas V. Krishnamoorthy, General Manager at ITC Windsor.
Other factors that will determine the success of such establishments will include the ability to offer unique, authentic and environmentally sustainable experiences.
Experts also believed that the face of fine dining has changed for good. Hygiene and safety standards will now always remain the topmost priority, irrespective of the pandemic. It will take a little more time for people to come back like before, but the hope is that the worst is truly behind everyone.