Visiting a restaurant in the Covid era is set to be a more ‘contact-less’ and digital experience than ever before. Set to reopen on June 8, most city restaurants are gearing up with a new set of norms that will mark the entry of virtual menu cards, disposable crockery and cutlery, fumigation of guests’ shoes, thermal checks and introduction of a compulsory briefing for each guest to ensure compliance of safety rules. While the number of seats will go down by 30%-40% on an average to ensure social distancing, some are planning to live-stream their cooking process on giant TV screens to gain customers’ confidence.
Even as tables are being rearranged in several restaurants to stick to the new norms, almost all of them have rejected the conventional menu card. It will either be replaced by a menu list sent to the customers’ WhatsApp number or will be displayed on a tablet screen. Some will display the menu on disposable table mats.
At Oudh 1590, menu will be sent to customers over WhatsApp after they have gone through a temperature check and their shoes have been fumigated. “Each guest will be briefed on the safety steps and the precautions that they should be taking during the visit. Our seating capacity will be reduced to 50% to maintain distance between tables,” said owner Shiladitya Chaudhury.
That apart, the restaurant will be using disposable crockery and cutlery — which could be charged — as a safety measure. “People may not be confident about the hygiene of cutlery, so disposables are better. Apart from thermal checks and sanitizers, we will be restricting contact between our staff and guests. Orders must be placed in one go and our staff will only carry the food to the table but won’t serve them,” added Chaudhury.
Specialty Restaurants chairman Anjan Chatterjee, though, remains wary. He said his chain of restaurants is ready with all safety protocols but doubts whether he will at all open them to guests. “In restaurants, the peak dinner time is between 8.30 and 11. If malls shut down at 9pm, we can only do half the usual business. That may not be viable given our overhead costs,” he said.
At Song Hai in central Kolkata, customers will have the menu list on their WhatsApp and they can opt for disposable cutlery, though the crockeries will be reusable. Bills, too, will be sent on their phones. “People could be wary of sharing forks and spoons. We will be charging for them and live-stream our cooking so that guests can be sure about our hygiene standards,” said owner Sudesh Poddar.
Mughlai chain Aminia will reduce seating capacity by 30%. “We are creating a digital menu and payment solution for customers. Those who do not have smartphones will receive a disposable printed menu. Our waiters will use masks and gloves and there will be temperature check and sanitisers at the gate,” said owner Kabir Azhar.
Source: Times of India