Pubs and restaurants hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Pubs and restaurants hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Bengaluru

By Anupama Bijur & Sudeshna Dutta

After 14 members of the staff of 1522, The Pub on BEL Road, tested positive last weekend, followed by eight employees of Toit microbrewery in Indiranagar, there’s increasing pressure on restaurants, eateries and hotels to prove that their kitchen is safe, once again. In June 2020, eateries and hotels had opened with sanitisers at the entrance, digital thermometers, sanitization tunnels, waiters with masks, face shields and gloves, digital menus, sanitised tableware wrapped in paper bags et al.

In 2021, it’s no different. Things have just gotten more stringent in the last few days. Says Pratik Shetty, partner at 1522, “In addition to all the sanitisation measures, in future, we want to place cameras in the kitchen so that our patrons can see what’s happening inside. We will start doing 50 per cent reservations proactively, to ensure social distancing.” Shetty, like Ranjeet Bijoor, co-founder of Brahmins Thatte Idli, says that they have been displaying the names and body temperature of employees at the entrance for customers to see.

Arun George, partner at Toit, said that they have been following all covid protocols mandated by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and also some voluntary measures like getting their staff tested. “Unfortunately eight of our 120 staff tested positive and we shut down voluntarily on Sunday even before the BBMP told us to. We will continue to enforce covid protocols at Toit, and reinforce awareness and mindful distancing.”

Chef Regi Mathew, Co-owner & Culinary Director, Kappa Chakka Kandhari, shut down his restaurant in Bengaluru on March 22, 2020, and reopened on March 18, 2021. “We have rented four houses to accommodate our staff, tweaked our menu and serving method to ensure that the waiter’s appearance at the table is kept minimal, one waiter handles your requests from start to finish, and we don’t take leftover food to the kitchen to pack doggy bags.”

Manu Chandra, Chef-Partner, Olive group of restaurants says that restaurants have been following many safety protocols, but it’s time for other measures too. “Given that restaurant staff are frontline workers who have to deal with customers all the time, I hope the government listens to the representative bodies and provides them with vaccines too. This would create a shield in an industry where person to person dealings are largely inevitable.”

Prasanna Kumar, Partner at BLR Brewing Co in Electronics City and Brew and Barbeque on Marathahalli ring road feels that being transparent about the cooking and sanitization process might help gain the confidence of customers.

Amaan Kidwai, General Manager, ITC Gardenia says this year they’re further strengthening ITC’s WeAssure initiative. “We have installed thermal scanners and mask check machines at both the guest and employee entrances, UV disinfection luggage scanners, hands-free elevator operations and contactless payment for room stay and dining, amongst others. We have been conducting regular health check-ups for our employees, besides encouraging work from home for some of our employees and issuing constant reminders to follow covid protocols.”

Dr. Kiran Kumar, Director of the just-opened Gawky Goose Kitchen and Bar (KG Hospitality) says they follow all covid protocols including sanitising cutlery and serving it in sanitised pouches. “Vaccination and testing must be made available to all age groups as soon as possible,” he adds.

PC Rao, president of BBMP Hotels Association said that they have formed a team to keep an eye on eateries. “We don’t want just the marshals to monitor them. Hence, our team is paying a surprise visit and educating the employees on following guidelines. We have also organised training programmes to employees on the need to maintain hygiene. We have also strictly instructed the hotels to serve hot water.”

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Customers who frequent restaurants and eateries say that the onus of safety lies equally on them as it does on the proprietors Husna Sait, bridal couturier, says: “It’s a two-way street. Both restaurant staff and customers should wear masks, use sanitisers and maintain social distance. The economy has been badly hit due to the pandemic and restaurateurs are in no position to face another lockdown. So it is up to people to take their own safety precautions.”

Sheetal C, Social and food influencer, says: “Recently, I have seen bartenders and waiters not wearing their masks properly. They are the ones who are touching our food and drinks, and simultaneously fidgeting with their masks and gloves. I feel stepping out to these places is no longer safe. Even guests are walking into restaurants without masks. If they’re having parties, the restaurant managements should invite people in small groups. They must also provide their staff with surgical masks instead of fancy cloth ones.”

According to Aslam Gafoor, General Manager-Luxury Dining, Dineout, “Compulsory testing of the restaurant staff is an important step. Also, training for new restaurant staff on how to handle guests and enforce rules. Entrepreneurs should slow down on new launches and parties for the next few weeks.”

Raunak Kundu, founder of Bangalore Foodies Club, says, “I prefer going to a place that has socially-distanced tables, small gatherings and an open-air ambience.”

–Inputs from Sridhar Vivan

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