The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has been quite a blow for several industries, and hospitality is no different. While the bigger players have managed to recuperate from the losses, it is a matter of survival for a larger number of small businesses. How can restaurant businesses stay afloat during such hard times? We had a chat with restaurateur Navneet Kalra to seek the answer.
For the uninitiated, Navneet Kalra owns several restaurants in Delhi NCR, the most prominent ones being Khan Chacha and Town Hall in Khan Market. Upon being asked about the post-pandemic state of the hospitality industry and how the businesses can recuperate, he said, “It’s a do or die situation for several restaurant businesses not only in Delhi NCR, but across the country as well. The pandemic has posed a unique challenge for all of us.”
Kalra continued, “We need to look at this problem from a humane angle. This is not a time to focus on the competition. The industry needs all the grit and resources to bounce back to the pre-Covid levels. The lockdowns have been a major setback for most businesses, so many of them have to start from scratch. It is almost as if each eatery is getting relaunched, or rehabilitated at the very least. The challenge for business owners is enormous.”
According to Khan Chacha owner Navneet Kalra, the hospitality sector, particularly the league of restaurant owners, is looking eagerly at the time to come in hope for some relief. He pointed out that while the lockdowns have lifted and restaurants have started functioning on near to normal capacities, business owners fear that this stability might only be for a short run. What the industry actually needs is much more than just a few months of a stable business.
“But as a restaurant owner, I feel that the hospitality sector needs a lot more to be done in order to make sure that the kitchen fires in the households of our workers keep burning. The turbulent times that the hospitality sector has witnessed, it was something the world had experienced never before. No one was prepared for it. The result has been quite devastating, especially for smaller businesses whose reserves have wiped out and revenues have dried up,” says Navneet Kalra.
He continued, “Without continued support from trade bodies and financial institutions, most restaurant businesses will not be able to survive the pandemic. As a result, there will be a loss of untold numbers of jobs. It will take multiple players to assist the hospitality sector in overcoming the losses caused during and in the aftermath of the pandemic. This is not an unachievable target – I am sure that together we can do it!”