As the country is on unlock mode, food joints have resumed operation and are operating as per the latest guidelines (delivery only) issued by the ministry.
As the losses which were suffered during the lockdown pile up, small cafes and hotels are looking at the option of cloud kitchen, which is a delivery-only business model.
Puneinsight caught with Shashank Chourasia, owner of The Urban Chinese, a cloud kitchen located in Wadgaon Sheri, who spoke on the challenges he faced during the lockdown and his plans for the coming months.
“This pandemic situation has taken all two years back in their life. It has affected us in the worst manner. Being a cloud kitchen owner, there were numerous challenges that we faced during this lockdown period. Be it getting all required raw materials (even ended up buying stuff at double the price of normal days), managing and educating staff about social distancing, personal hygiene and sanitization, similarly at the time of purchasing any raw material, going out for food delivery (as we do have a personal delivery option as well), or even handing over delivery packets to zomato/swiggy riders, we were unaware to which all areas are they traveling to deliver, very less no. of orders (not even able to get close to the breakeven cost for the day) and lastly but most importantly going home to your family after finishing off your days work with a fear in mind that are we carrying any virus along with us to home,” Shashank informed.
“All these factors seem really small, but being in such situations makes you understand how tough it was to run the show at that time. Challenges, problems are very normal for any business and everyone is mentally prepared to some extent but this one was and is still beyond our thoughts. Because of this situation, all predictions and expectations are going wrong,” Shashank added.
When quizzed whether the authorities handled the situation well, as far as cafe’s are concerned, Shashank said “The authorities have handled it really well. India is a densely populated country and keeping the population inside their home was a big task but the officials aced it. I am glad that the lockdown happened in our country at an early stage because had it been delayed, I guess we would have been in a much more critical condition as we are in today. According to me, for all dine-in restaurants, pubs, cafes, etc. it would have been really difficult to stick to the safety norms issued by the government, as these are the places where maximum human contact takes place, right from walking into the facility to sitting on the table, to ordering food, preparing it and getting it served on your table in the same dish which might be used by any other unknown person. I believe owners would have managed to keep their premises and staff hygienic to the maximum level but maintaining social distancing (which is most important) would not have been possible.”
When asked about his plans for the coming months Shashank said “I am planning to keep myself patient as much as possible. This is a tough time for everyone which shall pass by. It is a fight for survival that can be fought only by being patient. I know being patient under these tough circumstances is going to cost a fortune but believe me, people with a passion for food have to hang in for a few more months. It is painful to see so many cafes and hotels built with so much hard work, love, care, dedication closing down because if you consider an individual’s efforts and time given to make it stand are enormous. For hospitality and service sectors, it is of utmost importance to regain the trust of their customers. People are even scared to go out for their daily needs or essentials (which is normal), so this mind set change will happen only in due course of time.”
“My plan at The Urban Chinese is to keep my operational cost as low as I can only for now. I think people want to order but are avoiding it to be safe. We are doing our best we can by constant check on our staff’s and delivery boy’s temperature, mandatorily giving them mask, sanitizers, gloves, aprons and hairnets, mandatory hand wash drive every 30 minutes and sanitizing our kitchen twice a day. Have also reduced the staff to the minimum required number to maintain a safe distance and cut the cost as well. Our aim is to deliver the best quality and quantity of food to all our customers with maximum safety and no contact deliveries. Thinking optimistically, taking a step back for the time being is more advisable to be able to bounce back. Let this tough time vanish and the sun shine soon. Hoping people will begin to show their love for food by placing orders,” Shashank concluded.