Plan to Dine Out Post Lockdown? These Apps Will Be The New Normal

Restaurants would be one of the first businesses to open post lockdown, but with contactless dining being the norm.

Published
Tech News
4 min read
The traditional menu card won’t be handed out, instead one will have to place an order through apps.
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Restaurateurs predict that restaurants would be one of the first sectors of the economy to bounceback once lockdown is lifted. They are upbeat about people wanting to eat out having been locked in their homes for over 40 days. However, the experience won't be the same again.

In order to maintain adequate social distancing and minimal contact with staff at restaurants, diners will now have to resort to new ways of ordering food. Contactless dining is a term being used for the new "normal" in dining out.

“The psychology of the people is such that they have been cooped up in their houses for 7-8 weeks. Once restaurants open and they see restaurants following certain hygiene and safety standards, they will go. They won’t want to travel immediately or watch movies because of the confined space, but eating out safely is a definite option.”
Ankit Mehrotra, co-founder and CEO, Dineout

Companies such as Dineout and Zomato, which offer restaurant listings through apps, have already started working in the contactless dining experience into their apps. Here's how they propose it will work.

Contactless Dining

Dineouts proposes contactless, seating, menu, payments and feedback system through its app.
Dineouts proposes contactless, seating, menu, payments and feedback system through its app.
Photo: Dineouts

The whole contactless dining experience starts from the moment you plan to go out to eat. According to Dineout, it will entail six stages in its contactless Inresto dining suite. Customers can pre-order their food through the apps to ensure there is a minimal wait time at the restaurant once they reach.

At the restaurant, there will be no menu cards offered. Instead, the customer can check the menu on his or her smartphone through the app.

Tables will have to be booked in advance at the restaurant. Tables in restaurants will now be placed further apart (with at least 2 metres space), which means the seating capacity of restaurants will come down as well.

Dineout proposes that there will be a contactless valet system too. A valet, equipped with mask and gloves, will bring the customer's car to the lobby as soon as a customer has finished paying the bill, to ensure minimal wait time in crowded areas.

Payments will be fully digital through smartphone e-wallets and UPI systems so there is minimal contact with cash or point-of-sale terminals for credit cards.

Contactless ordering system on Zomato.
Contactless ordering system on Zomato.
Photo: Zomato
“I feel a proactive approach towards safety and hygiene will go a long way in building confidence back in dining out. The teams will start reaching out to restaurants in the coming weeks to educate them about contactless dining and self regulation.”
Deepinder Goyal, Founder, Zomato

Will Diners Bite?

However, while restaurants are predicting that diners will return to them, the question is will people be confident enough to go out and eat once lockdown ends?

"We believe that restaurants will have to ensure safety otherwise consumers will not visit that restaurant. For the first time, the onus is now on the restaurant to make the consumer feel safe," says Mehrotra. "We have seen that restaurants are already bouncing back in China and Singapore."

Restaurant owners are also confident that people will come out to eat.

“I guess post lockdown we are expecting people to come out as they would have been confined to their homes for 40 days. We are social animals and people want to get out and meet their cousins, colleagues and friends . So the first few initial days would be great enough. 
Rahul Bhansali, director, The Bombay Cartel (a Mumbai restaurant)

Apps like Zomato want to ensure that restaurants maintain hygiene standards.

"We’re adding features on the app to allow restaurants to self-report hygiene and safety measures they undertake, such as sanitising kitchens, disinfecting tables, etc. Users can also share feedback on hygiene at restaurants via the app," says Goyal.

Dineout, in fact, is providing a safety kit to restaurants so that their staff maintains hygiene. The safety kits consists of sanitiser, gloves, headgear, face mask, visor and a thermometer to take patrons temperature readings.

Restaurant safety kit being provided by Dineout.
Restaurant safety kit being provided by Dineout.
Photo: Dineout

However, restaurateurs expect there will be a significant fall in the number of visitors owing to the social distancing norms and fear still prevailing.

"Moving forward we think big parties and weekend nights won't seem to be pretty good for the industry as a whole. We are assuming we will see less than 50 percent of business post lockdown," says Bhansali.

The Ordering Scene

While eating out is likely to be the first sector to bounceback, food ordering has already started through cloud kitchens during the lockdown. The volumes are still quite low as people are wary of ordering food from outside.

However, niche businesses such as speciality foods and condiments that sell through online platforms say that anticipate a pick up in business once the lockdown ends.

As demand has been low during the lockdown, we have only been able to supply locally. But we see demand picking up for jams, pickles and other condiments once lockdown ends, because currently there is very limited choice in local markets.
Tushar Choudhary, The Fat Cook & Co.

One thing is certain, the casual dining scene in big cities will not be so casual anymore post the lockdown, not for a long time to come.

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