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Doing away with dining out

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KOCHI: The city witnessed a major gastronomic revolution with the launch of online food delivery applications. The apps, which delivered one’s favourite dishes on doorsteps in no time, soon got Kochiites hooked to it that all the major players witnessed a major growth. But, the downside of the trend is slowing becoming clear with a huge chunk of people doing away with dining out, dealing a big blow to restaurants in Kochi.

According to the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA), their business had plunged by 25 per cent and the trend, in the long run, will uproot their existence. So, to counter the dominance of online food delivering apps, the hotels have decided to come up with their own mobile application.
“We are facing a serious situation. Most hotels in the city,  except the ones below mid-level, are facing a loss of 25 per cent. We are sure the trend will be detrimental to us in the future,” says Rahim K T, treasurer, KHRA.

According to him, online food apps do bring in customers but they are not enough to keep the hotels going. “What they order will always be limited compared to what patrons would buy if they come to the restaurant. We lose a huge margin in that way. Plus, the commission for the apps and GST. The huge amount of money we have spent on the infrastructure and staff is going down the drain,” said Rahim.
Restaurant owner Nitin Kurvilla had an online app for home delivery. “It did extremely well for a year. But, once the food apps gained ground, my app lost the traction,” he adds.

According to sources, people ditching dining out has indirectly affected not just hotels but other business ventures too. “A family deciding to go out during the evening hours generated a lot of business. Not just food, shopping, in general, gets affected,” said sources within the food industry. However, the advent of apps has benefitted modest food outlets, with little infrastructure, who otherwise didn’t have home delivery facilities. Despite repeated requests, none of the food delivery app representatives was available for comment.

KHRA plans for an online app
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association is in talks with a few startups to set up a new online app. “Though a lot of startups approached us, none of them met our demands. Then, we are looking for
investors too,” said Rahim. Earlier, the KHRA had protested against the apps, with many hotels deciding not to accept food orders. They had flayed the high commission demanded by the apps. The strike was then resolved.

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