Most eateries in Valley switch to active home delivery services, but recouping the loss caused by COVID-19 lockdown is a long run
May 29, 2020 06:25 PM NPT
By: Aditi Baral
KATHMANDU, May 28: After shutting its business for weeks due to the lockdown, one of the most sought-after restaurants in town, Bajeko Sekuwa is now running back on track with active home delivery services. Although the restaurant hasn’t been able to function like in the pre-lockdown phase, the operators are content that they are able to provide service to their customers and possibly pay salaries to their staffs. “We are satisfied that we have been able to stand up to the expectations of our customers but the major satisfaction we have is that the home delivery service has made it possible for us to pay salaries to our staffers even in a time of a crisis,” said Sanjib Kumar Timalsina, head of operations at the restaurant.
In a quest of compensating the losses caused by the prolonged lockdown and to provide service to people seeking for it, many big and small eateries in the Valley are now on the active track of running home delivery services.
For the first few weeks of the lockdown, the authentic Nepali restaurant with more than 10 outlets in the Valley was completely shut, bearing huge losses like many other businesses. “Following the code of conduct for the lockdown imposed by the government, we halted our services for a few weeks. We were rather engaging in social service by providing free food to needy people. However, on receiving demands from customers, we thought of starting takeaway services,” Timalsina said.
The restaurant has been providing food delivery service providers like Foodmanmdu and Bhoj deals. A few other restaurants in the Valley too have started food delivery services pairing with these platforms. According to Manohar Adhikari, founder of Foodmandu, although their services have been affected by the lockdown, they still receive moderate numbers of orders through an app. “The lockdown has affected our services too, but considering the situation and the available resources, we have been receiving decent numbers of orders these days,”Adhikari told Republica Online.
However, the number of restaurants pairing with the app has significantly reduced. There were about 300 restaurants working with the app but now this number is limited to 50 . The numbers of delivery riders have also been reduced drastically. “We have lessened the numbers of delivery riders from around 150 to 40 he said.”
Like Bajeko Sekua, another well-known restaurant in the town, Bota Mo:mo is also providing active home delivery services. According to Jonesh Pradhan, manager of the restaurant, they started the service by delivering frozen mo:mos a few weeks after the lockdown was enforced. However, they had to halt in between due to some complications. Now, the service is actively back on track.
Nevertheless, Pradhan mentioned that they started the service only after being requested by many customers and the home delivery service is nowhere close to compensating the loss caused by the lockdown. “We started home delivery services after receiving requests from our customers,” he said adding, “With just about 50-60 deliveries a day, the home delivery service cannot fully compensate for the loss”.
According to Pradhan, the restaurant has 14 different outlets with more than 300 staffers, and to get back on track is still a long run.
Pradhan also mentioned that running home delivery services during a crisis like this is a tough job and a little blunder can lead to serious results. “We have tried our best to follow sanitary measures and we have also prioritized food items that are easy to cook and deliver,” he said.
Not just well-off restaurants, but a few local chophouses and eateries have also started food delivery services. In recent weeks, 34-year-old Rajesh Limbu is again seen busy with his work. Limbu operates a small eatery named after himself - Rajesh Khaja Ghar - in Satungal. Although he faced heavy losses for about two months due to the lockdown, he is now gaining courage to get back to work with the home delivery service. “I had two other staffers who helped me in operating the restaurant. One went back to his village before the lockdown but the other helper stayed with me,” Limbu said.
Talking to Republica Online, Limbu mentioned that he started the home delivery service because it was getting hard for him to sustain his family of four. “I have three other people to feed including my helper who stays with me. I even have to pay the rent for the place I operate my restaurant in. Closing the restaurant for about two months caused me a huge loss,” he said.
However, Limbu’s restaurant is just a local restaurant and he hasn’t paired with any food delivery service platforms. Facing difficulties in getting necessary supplies, he only prepares limited food in a day and delivers food to places close to his locality on his bicycle. “I get orders from phone calls. It is generally from customers who often came to my restaurant before the lockdown.”
Keeping safety as the foremost priority, all of these restaurants have been following the guidelines provided by the government. Timilsina mentioned that his restaurant has paired with Foodmandu and Bhoj Deals and food is delivered following sanitation procedures. Under this, they have prioritized contactless delivery where the customers are asked to pay through digital platforms. “We apply sanitation guidelines from preparing to delivering the food to the customers,” he said.
Bota Momo too has paired with the digital food delivery platforms but they also conduct delivery services by themselves. “We have our own delivery van and we follow every sanitation guideline while preparing and delivering the food. The vehicle is cleaned with disinfectants after every use and our staffers are provided with gloves, facemasks and sanitizers,” Pradhan said.
Limbu too is aware of the safety measures to be followed while delivering the food. He always wears a mask and gloves and carries sanitizers every time he is out to deliver food. “Afterall, the only motive to restart my service is not to gain profit from the service but to earn enough to compensate for my loss so that I can feed my family and pay my rent.”