Restaurant business

Food for thought as applications bite into the restaurant industry

While eating out has become more common again with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, restaurants across the city are seeing an increase in footfall which is directly translating into better business. However, the exponential growth of app-based food delivery services during lockdown has changed the restaurant experience in many ways, industry players say.

“Previously, people ordered one or two dishes to be delivered to their homes by phone, but during confinement, basic meals became a bestseller, especially on Apps. It has also helped us to diversify and adapt our menu accordingly,” said R. Natarajan, F&B Manager, Ramyas Hotels. The Hindu.

The hotel group, which has three flagship restaurants, created its own application long before the pandemic, to promote its menu to customers at home. “We had a separate team for logistics and also links with local transport partners for door-to-door delivery. But the app really helped us during the lockdown when almost all restaurants were closed. We were able to operate our kitchens thanks to the orders received on the application. The volume of orders on the app has decreased in recent weeks, but our dishes are still available on the other apps as well,” Natarajan said.

For many restaurants, the summer season is synonymous with food festivals and special offers. This has been diluted somewhat over the past couple of years by the trend of people compounding their food orders.

“Customers don’t always receive the dish as it appears in the delivery app’s menu photos, which is why eating in is so important,” said CakeBee partner SP Sethu Subbiah.

Mr. Subbiah says the company hasn’t been affected much by the food delivery app trend. “People always like to come and try our new products and the dish of the day in our restaurant. Being available online is important to us, but when we partner with app services, it affects our profit margins. »

Feenix, one of Tiruchi’s first ‘online distributors’, delivers food within a 25 km radius of the city. Launched by former delivery guys J. Dominic Dhanabal and S. Johnson in 2016, Feenix faces a tough year as the biggest food delivery apps also started to spread their wings.

“Thanks to these applications, the inhabitants of Samayapuram, for example, have their orders delivered from Tiruchi. In the long term, this will affect local restaurant operations in remote areas. We are one of the few local online platforms in the food delivery industry and unlike our competing services, our customers can order from multiple restaurants at the same time,” says Dominic.

“We have a fixed delivery charge and a designated time slot, so we can manage with our team of eight people. But I don’t know how delivery agents who rely on commission-based income will be able to make the long trips out of town and return to today’s fuel prices.