One is for sure horrified at the question, “Is there any positive hope from the COVID pandemic”? the obvious answer will be a big “No”, the virus which has killed so many people all over the world, brought in poverty and suffering beyond imagination cannot be a positive.
But if we wonder what considerable changes the food and beverage is awaiting once the situation is calmed, one can just forecast that there will be many people who will throng to restaurants and bars to enjoy the happiness that they were deprived off for so many months. Though still there will be a few who will remain overly cautious and still not visit at all. The big question is will people continue to go to bars and restaurants even after their initial desire to go to a restaurant is gratified? Or has there been a remarkable change in the attitude towards food not cooked at home?
When the situation got a bit relaxed, the vogue for home delivery is striving its way through as a cloud kitchen can make food of the same quality at a much lower cost.
The restaurateurs aren’t bothering to improvise the quality of their food. If we take into consideration two most popular dishes offered by almost all restaurants in India, one being Butter Chicken and the other one Chicken Manchurian, there maybe a few places where butter chicken is made good and there may be other places that make good Chicken Manchurian. But on an average the food is almost the same wherever one goes.
The bulk of business comes from mid-market sector and the cooks are quite good without tantrums. That way the expats hired by some upmarket restaurants may not be so good and risk a restaurateur too. It’s not like by virtue of being an Indian, all Indian cooks can make a good Rogan Josh, similarly nor does every Thai know how to make a good red curry.
Indians were fast realising that most restaurants do not pay heed to food, giving in an opportunity for fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC to successfully sell Indian flavoured fast food at a relatively low price.
Most of the households during the lock down days cooked their own food turning it into a great fun and did new experimentation too. Of course due to ample of time in hand then, but also ate their meals with the family and at much lower cost. Also there may be many families who tried to replicate many dishes after experimenting, which they otherwise may have had at a particular restaurant. Some may have even tried their hands on making some Western dishes too with successful results. One other reason is that nowadays we get better and wide variety of ingredients for cooking.
There will be still many whose thirst for eating out may not have been satiated and who ordered their meals from restaurants. People found that the food delivered were of good quality and much fresher. In midst of this even many housewives trying their traditional as well as western dishes and making it available to their neighbours and acquaintance at a price, helping them publicise their home cooked specialties.
It is for sure that the restaurant business will have to suffer a lot and will have to strive to hold their position. Restaurateurs will have to pull up their socks and look out for better business strategies to attract people customers before it gets too late.
Another important part of food and beverage sector is the alcoholic drinks and cocktails. Many boozie friends must have had a hearty home cooked food along with Indian wines and spirits without paying high prices at restaurants. It was seen that people have more adherence towards liquor, people stood in long queue to procure a bottle once the announcement was made for its sale. So one can gauge that once everything becomes normal, people will visit restaurants for cocktails and hard drinks, may also order for finger food but probably not a proper meal. Maybe the bartenders will be new celebrities, scoring much more than the chefs.
A note of it was taken by Diageo well in time. Diageo organises world class competitions, it announced that it would pay for insurance cover up for it’s over 300 bartenders. The bartenders who otherwise are not given their due respect were gratified at this gesture. From the view point of Diageo too, it makes sense the bar sector will thrive even as restaurants will try to survive the hard knock down of Covid and the post lock down scenario due to the pandemic.
One cannot make an innovative cocktail at home, nor can one find the atmosphere of a bar and neither can a cocktail be delivered at your door step. Though there is a phenomenon that most bars lose their aura within a year and the crowds hunts for a newer place to quench their thirst.
This seems to be a positive of COVID impact on food and beverage industry.