TTDC eyes more drive-in dining facilities

Guests enjoy safe time out at Madurai's Tamil Nadu Hotel drive-in restaurant.  


With the hospitality industry struggling to revive fortunes in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) is planning a makeover to woo back customers.

Following the launch of a drive-in restaurant and open air theatre at its property in Madurai in October last, the TTDC is looking at a similar facility at its Island Ground premises in Chennai.

“It [Island Ground] already has a restaurant called ‘Drive-in’ but it lacks in facilities that go with it. The pandemic, lockdowns and anxiety among people has rendered it almost dysfunctional now. We will be upgrading it to a state-of-the-art facility,” TTDC Managing Director, Sandeep Nanduri, told The Hindu.

“Modifications under the new [COVID-appropriate] norms will be undertaken in a phased manner,” he said. This includes upgrading the rooms and putting rigid cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention policies in place.

Out of its 53 properties in Tamil Nadu, ten are categorised premier given their advantage of prime location and large open spaces, where outdoor dining will now be prioritised.

The business in the initial five months was good in Madurai after the launch of the drive-in, but subsequently lost momentum in the aftermath of the second wave of COVID-19. “We have now drawn up a master plan to refurbish it further,” Mr.Nanduri said.

Currently, the place is crying for patronage even though the outdoor six-acre space has been used creatively with the installation of a large screen where sports and music programmes, awards and reality shows are beamed. Besides, slots are earmarked for vehicles to park so that guests can enjoy food sitting in the safety and comfort of their car as special steel trays customised with hooks fit into the inside of car doors in the evenings. Those wanting to enjoy the evening under the open sky have the option of taking a table in the well-lit ground.

The tables are distanced appropriately and a new open air kitchen gives the guest a view of what is cooking. Earlier, 15-to 20 cars lined up daily but now the footfalls have declined to two-three families during weekends, said M Guneshwaran, the hotel’s senior manager. On week nights, the place awaits its customers.

Mr.Nanduri said plans are afoot to further beautify the space with landscaping, introducing children’s play area and constructing a stage for events besides an additional open kitchen to make the menu more expansive.

“We are adapting to the times and the changes will continue as a work-in-progress. Once it is fully complete, up to 50 cars will be able to park easily,” said Mr.Guneswaran. “We want people to take a break from the arduous indoor life and spend safe evening hours in a place free from congestion and embraced in green,” he added.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 12:55:20 AM |

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