Friday, March 31, 2023 | Ramadan 8, 1444 H
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Apps, cost cuts high on the menu

Restaurants in Muscat are coming out with innovative schemes to ease the impact of Covid-19 to stay in the race. Those connected with the hospitality sector say sales were down largely by 50 per cent due to the pandemic and a further 20 to 30 per cent during the lockdown period.

The Observer spoke to a few restaurant owners and food bloggers in town to ascertain their views on how they managed the situation during these tough times.

Masoud al Maskary, owner at Kunafa Kingdom, says they implemented measures like reduction of headcount, reviewed costs of inventory and renegotiated with the suppliers. They also convinced the landlords to reduce rents, relocated staff to cheaper accommodation and focused more on delivery apps especially during lockdown.

Anshul Vivek, Marketing Manager, Zaeem Foods Muscat, says since two years hotels everywhere suffered badly with dipping revenues due to the pandemic with people avoiding to eat out. “We are trying to engage the audience through social media posts so that the brand name and visibility is maintained until things are back to normal. Business has been severely hit but we thank our esteemed guests who helped us with whatever ways they could by following strict protocols and SOPs set by the Supreme Committee.”

Yahia Bteddini, owner at Melts, a fast-food joint, says restaurants were badly hit due to lack of sales and also fear from residents and expatriates. He says they looked to push online sales by marketing but however are still awaiting big return in the near future.

Bloggers in Muscat also echoed similar sentiments as they could not go live from restaurants.

Nabeela Farshori (@itsnabfarshor), a digital marketing analyst and a prominent food blogger, admits the pandemic has been really harsh especially for the hospitality industry. She mentions missing out on her usual eat outs as a family or as a food blogger individually. She fervently wishes to see times when everything is back to normal and prefers to support all restaurants that deserve the best.

Food fanatic Adela Eileen (@foodfanatic_adela.eileen) says that hospitality seems to be an unforgiving affair now. “Team work, cooperation and well-balanced management is what it takes for any hotelier to reach out to its community,” she mentions.

Raha Akhter, (@the_hungry_lifestyle) says though she was unaffected initially, she continued to dine in and blog until she was infected by Covid-19. She loved to visit restaurants, try out different cuisines, stock up on wet wipes, as the pandemic got the best of her and blogging regularly became a nightmare since then. “Many had stopped ordering from restaurants altogether. Numerous traditional age-old and new restaurants ceased operations. Quarantine cooking played a big role in the rise of a number of food writers and home cooks,” she adds.

Food blogger and photographer Dhanitri Pai (@homemakerssecretdiary) is of the view that dining in a restaurant lifts up the moods giving a break from home. “But with the pandemic, although we were ordering in, I just could not enjoy it as it was not the same as dining in a food joint or a restaurant. Basically it is the vibe and atmosphere that makes all the difference,” she concludes.

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