By Puja Gupta
April 6, 2020 (IANSlife) By the time things return to normal as a result of the lockdown people will probably have built much stronger habits of eating in and as such the percentage going out will drop substantially, feels founder and Managing Director of Olive Group of Restaurants, A.D. Singh.
The nationwide lockdown called by the Prime Minister till April 14 to contain the spread of the pandemic Covid-19 has put the Indian dine-out industry at a back foot.
“Liabilities created during the lockdown and the expected losses till things normalise will together be a load that many restaurants will not be able to bear,” the veteran tells IANSlife.
To fight the repercussions, many have joined hands to help people like daily wagers who are directly impacted by the shutdown. The Olive group has also started an initiative called the ‘Kitchens Against Hunger’, together with "Youth Feed India in partnership with Safa", which aims to serve the hungry, focussing on children.
How do you think the lockdown will impact the industry?
Singh: By the time things return to normal as a result of the lockdown people will probably have built much stronger habits of eating in and as such the percentage going out will drop substantially.
Secondly, people will be more careful of groups and as such parties, bar nights, big events etc will be slow to pick up.
Thirdly, I expect this period to create a huge economic strain on everyone and as such disposable income post normalisation will be very tight. All these paint a very tough picture for the dining out industry for the near future.
How difficult will it be for restaurants to be back on track?
Singh: I believe it will be very difficult and will take many months in most cases. Many will never recover.
What will be long term impacts of this lockdown?
Singh: Mainly I believe that the huge resultant setback to the economy will affect most industries including ours severely. Over the long term, the liabilities created during the lockdown and the expected losses till things normalise will together be a load that many restaurants will not be able to bear.
On the personal side, I’m hoping that we will emerge into a better world with people focusing on saving the earth like they never have before.
The government has announced relief package. But how far do you think it is helpful? Do you think more needs to be done?
Singh: So far the government has announced fairly small measures where it has allowed people to withdraw from their own EPF funds or allowed deferments in some fees. Much more needs to be done firstly to help our struggling millions be fed through this difficult time.
Secondly, I believe the government is assessing different industries that are severely affected and we are waiting to see what support they will provide to help us come out from this as well.
The industry has united to help the needy. Tell us how you are doing your bit.
Singh: The National Restaurant association is driving a huge effort to Feed the Needy. Many of us have opened up our kitchens to help cook meals every day.
The Olive Group had already created an initiative against hunger particularly focused on feeding children through collections from our restaurants. The need is more than ever now and I’m doing my best to raise more and more funds for the efforts.
All funds raised are going to #YouthFeedIndia an initiative started by my nephew and local partner in Hyderabad and our ex-local partner in Bangalore who are personally overseeing the sourcing and distribution of packages to needy communities.
How far it will be feasible if the lockdown continues further than announced by the PM?
Singh: Firstly, the lockdown needs to continue as long as required to contain the epidemic. Secondly, the government needs to put in place and execute it’s reliefs as outlined above.
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Puja Gupta can be contacted at email@example.com