More shots please

As Delhi continues to step out, we look at how vaccinations and social distancing are driving up people’s appetite

Published: 17th July 2021 10:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th July 2021 10:27 AM   |  A+A-

Diners at Cafe Delhi Heights

Express News Service

Remember getting your first shot of the vaccine, dear reader? I do and, being among the minor percentage of takers who experience bad side effects (for like one day), had the luxury of taking a day off. You know who cannot afford that same indulgence? Restaurants and the multitudes of people and professions they employ. We have already discussed previously, on this very page, how restaurants are perhaps the safest places you can go to, because of the stringent protocols they follow for the sake of humanity and economics. And restaurant staff, whether in service or inside the kitchens are front in line.

“Most food-lovers across the country have been sitting on the fence for weeks about going back to their favourite restaurants in town with the Covid-19 health advisory. As millions are impatiently waiting for the day they can finally step out, people are consciously looking for vaccinated staff as one of the key factors while deciding their outing,” says Ankit Mehrotra, Co-Founder & CEO Dineout, adding,

“We are promoting 100 per cent vaccinated staff-tagged restaurants, which are already contributing as much as 75 per cent of the monthly GMV in some cities, and we expect that to go up to 90 per cent in the coming months. We are confident these ‘see it to believe it’ measures such as fully vaccinated staff and premier sanitation will reassure diners.” Kabir Jeet Singh, Founder and Chief Singh of Burger Singh, in fact bucked the trend. “We decided to close for dine-in even as we realised a second wave was on its way; we didn’t wait for it to actually hit.

We asked our staff to abstain from going out as much as possible so as to minimise the risk of their exposure and also began providing them with vitamin and other supplements as a precaution.” The company organised it so that by the beginning of July, 97 per cent of the staff had gotten their first jab. And measures like these reassure customers. “For us, it was imperative to create a safe dining experience for everyone involved and vaccination was the top priority. We have conducted vaccination drives for our staff across the country.

Each member of our staff has been vaccinated at least once and wears badges to indicate the same. The response thus far has been very positive as people are feeling confident and safe to dine out,” explains Satyajit Dhingra, Chief Regional Officer — North, Impresario Handmade Restaurants. Indeed, most major Indian chains, be it Vikrant Batra’s Cafe Delhi Heights or Zorawar Kalra’s Massive Restaurants offering of eateries, have conducted mass vaccination drives for their staff. That brings us to how the masses themselves are coping with the thought of going out, something that seems to be on an upswing, despite latent hesitancy among the more cautious.

South Delhi builder Raghav Narang explains, “Having already suffered from Covid, I have become all too familiar with the disease. And despite having those antibodies and also having had my first shot, I am still not entirely comfortable with the idea of going out casually. I had to go meet someone in Monkey Bar earlier this week, but made sure my meeting finished within half an hour, so I didn’t have to stay out too long. And restaurants are also well aware of this fact.

“We had to wait for 50 minutes at a popular dining chain, despite having booked a reservation on a dineout app, as the restaurant was following proper social distancing. So, they only allowed 25 people at a time. We went over a weekend, so that might have been a factor but the food was amazing as always,” says communications specialist Manvika Sagar. “Finally stepping out for a meal in a restaurant was super refreshing and a welcome change.

We headed to our favourite watering hole in Khan Market and it was packed. There were people queued up, waiting for a table at almost every establishment,” sums up Nayan Srivastava, admitting, “Initially, it made me quite nervous being around so many people. However, once seated, the experience was seamless, safe and very comfortable. It’s nice to see the city back to a semblance of normal, masked but having a good time.” To all the vaccinated Delhi denizens, bon appétit!


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