The Future of Eating Out in Lahore

We talk to some of our favourite restaurants’ owners about how they’re handling the current situation and how they envision the future of dining.

Batool Mohsin, Rina’s Kitchenette

Rina’s frozen Mozzarella Sticks

“We’re focusing a lot more on in-home consumption and have launched frozen packs of our popular appetizers”

Hygeinic deliveries at Rina’s Kitchenette

We’re restructuring our business to cater more to takeaway and delivery customers. We’ve reduced our menu items and removed items that don’t travel well. We’re also focusing a lot more on in-home consumption and have launched frozen packs of our popular appetizers to fry and make at home.

On the operation side while we haven’t reduced our workforce and plan to support our employees at least for the next three months, we are however trying to reduce overheads by limiting electricity consumption and renegotiating rents.

Rina’s Kitchenette using disinfection booths at their entrance

Raza Ahmed, Bamboo Union

Bamboo Union’s Dine In In Your Car

“No one really knows what the future of dining will look like”

Bamboo Union’s Pan Asian dishes

It’s a real bad crisis that the restaurant industry is facing and will probably face for months to follow. The restaurant industry is a big employer of skilled/unskilled labour. Unlike abroad, we don’t have any relief packages. We are paying our labour, we have had no tax relief and because we occupy prime real estate the single biggest hit that we have to deal with is the rents. Restaurants are not even opening for takeaways because they fear the landlords will claim the rent in full. We have reached out to government officials and various government departments for relief.

All restaurant owners including me are very anxious at the moment. No one really knows what the future of dining will look like. We are planning to start with limited seating capacity once the lockdown is completely finished. But a lot of grey areas also haunt this subject. If the limited seating capacity is prescribed by the government, who will be enforcing it? Are people going to dine out like before at all?

Chicken chilly dry from Bamboo Union

Ahmed Cheema, Andaz, Chit Chaat and Go Flour

Making bread at Go Flour

“We are setting up a drive through – the first desi restaurant drive through!”

Chit Chaat’s Pappu Burger

Andaaz is shut. We have sent people on paid leave. And we are redoing our rooftop, adding more space to make it safer post-corona. We are still working with our architects on how to do that, we might make little transparent cabins.

At Chit Chaat, we have a new menu designed so we can work with no more than four in the kitchen. We are setting up a drive through – the first desi restaurant drive through! We have kept all our staff, they work in rotation. One shift works one week then takes one week off. We are working on acquiring a location in DHA asap so that we don’t have to let any go. Most of my staff has been there for so long, I can’t let them down now.

Product wise, we have put together meal combinations that can be prepared and consumed with minimal exposure to contamination. We are working with available packaging and we are going to start selling ready meals – blast frozen, fresh cooked, natural ingredients, no preservatives. Same as our beverage line.

So yes – food that’s safe, cost effective and delivered.

And I’m trying to set up a food delivery app – more service based and restaurant/food focused.

Our deliveries have more than doubled. So, we are learning the delivery bit and talking to companies for a suitable app.

I’m so lucky to have a great team. They are very adaptable. We did the Asian bowls for GoFlour. We are doing burgers for some clients. Now we have a Mediterranean platter. It’s kind of fun – new things every week.

Bakery items from Go Flour

Sohail Salahuddin, Solli’s Pizza

“COVID-19 will have a huge impact on hospitality”

I think COVID-19 will have a huge impact on hospitality. Many, many places will close down if they haven’t already and many people will lose their livelihoods. Restaurants simply don’t possess the savings to last out this crisis without the help of the government. Hopefully people will support their local restaurants more and order in delivery. We are trying to do take home pizzas which people can make at home.

I'm a writer, editor, and mom with an Economics background who hopes that you find something meaningful, inspiring, educational or provoking in this fantastic section.

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