HomeNewsRestaurants in Delhi-NCR grapple as heatwave takes toll: Foot traffic plummets, businesses...

Restaurants in Delhi-NCR grapple as heatwave takes toll: Foot traffic plummets, businesses suffer up to 40% decline

As per industry experts, the lunchtime period has taken the hardest hit, with regular office workers and loyal shoppers opting to remain indoors.

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As the blazing sun sends temperatures soaring past 40 degrees Celsius, the merciless grip of summer becomes even more apparent, making the idea of stepping out for lunch unbearable. And with the scorching winds persisting well into the night, dinner outings lose their appeal as well. For non-mall restaurants in Delhi-NCR, the summer of 2024 has been marked by sparse reservations, dwindling foot traffic, and nearly deserted lunch hours, resulting in an estimated 25 percent decline in business. Some eateries even report figures closer to a staggering 40 percent drop.

Among those confronted with vacant tables and substantial financial setbacks is Rahul Arora, proprietor of The Big Tree Cafe in Gurgaon. His establishment’s unique selling point, as the name implies, lies in its al-fresco dining ambiance, which typically forms the cornerstone of its success for much of the year.

Continue Exploring: Demand soars for cola, beverages, and ice creams as heatwave grips India

“Typically, we anticipate a minor decrease in foot traffic during the hotter months, but this year’s decline has been significantly greater due to the extreme temperatures. This has significantly impacted our business, affecting both our revenue and the exceptional dining experience that we pride ourselves on,” Arora conveyed.

He mentioned, “We’ve experienced a substantial 40 percent decline in business as a result of the unprecedented scorching heat.”

Record-breaking Temperatures:

This summer, temperatures in and around Delhi have reached record-breaking highs.

On May 29, the maximum temperature for the day reached 46.8 degrees Celsius, as documented by the primary weather station, Safdarjung Observatory, marking a 79-year record high. This surpassed the previous milestone of 46.7 degrees Celsius, set on June 17, 1945. In the Najafgarh area, temperatures climbed even further.

Lunchtime Lull:

As per industry experts, the lunchtime period has taken the hardest hit, with regular office workers and loyal shoppers opting to remain indoors. Moreover, devoted food enthusiasts are also forgoing their customary weekly dine-out routines in favor of staying home.

Manpreet Singh, treasurer of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and proprietor of several restaurants like Zen and Fujiya, highlighted the concerning decrease in foot traffic in prominent market centers like Connaught Place.

“Typically, even in summer, people would venture out in the afternoon for shopping and then seek respite in a restaurant to relax, enjoy a cooler, or grab a bite. However, this year, the scenario has been different… We’ve witnessed a 25 percent decline in business overall,” Singh remarked.

In an attempt to mitigate the impact of the heat, restaurants are implementing enticing discounts, adjusting menus, and upgrading outdoor cooling systems with mist fans and extra shaded areas.

For instance, to combat the sweltering temperatures, the casual dining chain Anardana is hosting a revitalizing plant-based summer event. Featuring dishes crafted from seasonal ingredients and refreshing mango beverages, it offers a cool respite at its multiple outlets.

Shruti Malik, founder of Anardana, remarked, “The unprecedented heatwave this year has notably affected foot traffic, especially during lunch hours…”

Continue Exploring: Food delivery and e-commerce giants ramp up measures to protect delivery partners amidst sweltering heatwave

For those choosing to stay indoors, ordering takeout is the preferred option. While home deliveries have somewhat alleviated the worries of restaurant management, food delivery agents are feeling the brunt of the heat.

Navigating the streets of Delhi-NCR, these young men — and occasionally women — endure a challenging time, perspiring beneath their helmets in the scorching heat for a meager income. They earn as little as INR 40 for a 10 km ride, supplemented occasionally by tips.

A 36-year-old food delivery worker describes the period between 11 am and 3 pm as a “living nightmare” for earning his livelihood.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he explained, “We have to halt several times to seek shade. The glaring sun makes it impossible to see our mobile screens for navigation. Placing a wet handkerchief on my head, beneath the helmet, is my only method to stay cool during the rides.”

Certainly, he added, there are no summer bonuses to alleviate the challenges.

In an unusual move, food aggregator Zomato recently advised customers to refrain from ordering during the peak afternoon hours amidst the heatwave.

The appeal, circulated as an X post, initiated a debate, with some commending the company’s concern while others proposed alternative solutions to address the issue.

Continue Exploring: Zomato urges customers to avoid ordering during peak afternoon hours amid intense heatwave

Rushabh Jhaveri, the founder of Recipe Cup, another food aggregator platform, praised Zomato’s initiative but suggested a more nuanced approach. He proposed that the company prioritize the well-being of delivery partners while maintaining a seamless customer experience, which would yield greater benefits.

Among his recommendations are “providing incentives for delivery partners during peak afternoon hours and encouraging customers to place pre-orders during morning and evening hours to avoid the extreme afternoon heat”.

It’s not entirely bleak for food businesses situated within the refreshing confines of air-conditioned malls. Insiders note that while there has been a decrease in foot traffic during the afternoons, this has been offset by an increase in evening foot traffic.

Therefore, establishments like Birch at Pacific Mall in Netaji Subhash Place, Harajuku Tokyo Cafe at Select Citywalk Mall in Saket, or Bira 91 Taproom, with outlets across various malls, have reported a “notable increase” in sales during the evening and nightlife hours.

Rahul Singh, Senior Vice President of Pubs at Bira 91, stated, “The heatwave hasn’t impacted our business; in fact, we’ve experienced our most successful May ever. We’re anticipating a stellar June as well. Since most of our outlets are located in malls, where people seek refuge from the heat, our business is thriving.”

Continue Exploring: Indian restaurants struggle as scorching heatwave dampens sales by up to 40%

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