Tamil Nadu

‘Players in it for the long haul in the food and beverage industry remain’

“There has definitely been a clean-up in the F&B [food and beverage] space. Only the players in it for the long haul have remained. Anyone who thought that ‘restauranting’ was a fancy and glamorous profession has exited the business. The restaurant business, unlike popular perception, runs on very thin margins.” This observation by Japtej Ahluwalia, co-founder and executive director at Pricol Gourmet, set the tone for Monday’s panel discussion.

The discussion titled ‘Leading Diners Through The Pandemic’, the fifth in the Coversations series under The Hindu Group’s ‘Tamil Nadu Smiling’ campaign, featured respected names from the State’s restaurant industry discussing their profession’s present and future with an optimistic outlook.

The panel comprised Mr. Alhuwalia as well as Jegan S. Damodarasamy, executive director at Sree Annapoorna & Sree Gowrishankar Group in Coimbatore, and Chindi Varadarajulu, creative chef and founder of Pumpkin Tales and Zhouyu in Chennai, and chef at Latitude49 at the Grande Bay Resort and Spa in Mamallapuram.

Each panellist, owing to the age and scale of their establishments, was able to provide a distinct insight into the situation. Mr. Damodarasamy explained the challenges of a chain that has been “doing things a certain way” for decades, to change their functioning and structures. He also pointed out how people were still willing to walk up to a trusted restaurant for a favourite dish. “I had expected deliveries to become a much larger part of our operations, but people are clearly more open to takeout: they are willing to patiently stand in lines with social distancing.”

Each restaurateur agreed that the 50% seating capacity ceiling mandated was not profitable. “Unlike a restaurant like Annapoorna, when you go to a fine dining restaurant, you don’t expect to bump elbows with people. It already has spaced out seating, and fewer customers,” said Mr. Damodarasamy. “If restaurants don’t function at 80% to 85% capacity, they don’t even break even,” Mr. Alhuwalia added. Ms. Varadarajulu explained how diners in more spaced out restaurants such as Latitude 49 were more relaxed and tended to stay longer than those in city establishments. All three panellists, however, agreed that baked goods are seeing a spike in demand.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:36:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/players-in-it-for-the-long-haul-in-the-food-and-beverage-industry-remain/article33217096.ece

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