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Eating out is a core part of our social fabric: AD Singh



AD Singh, the Founder and Managing Director of Olive Bar & Kitchen Pvt Ltd, is a man who has been there at the beginning of the great surge in restaurants and F&B in India, something he helped to begin and also rode to great success.

ETHospitalityWorld spoke to Singh about his view of the current situation which is facing the industry and what restaurants should do.

“As you can imagine, it’s true that over the last few years, the industry has exploded, because the size of the market grew a lot. It is an exciting industry and people look at it and think there’s so much money to make. However, a lot of the new places that came up were really sort of fly by night operators—a surprisingly large segment,” Singh told us explaining the boom in F&B.

With the pandemic lockdown restrictions over the last year and beyond, there would be a high mortality rate amongst these first, but and probably onwards for who can say there will be a high mortality rate amongst these first. But there would also be a high mortality rate across the sector depending on a group or person’s pockets and diversity (of their businesses), he said.

“At NRAI we were expecting between the first strike of the pandemic and lockdown, and the one currently going on, maybe about a 30 percent mortality in the industry between these two. If there are more lockdowns, that number will increase for sure,” he added.

“The difference between this round of the pandemic is that almost all of us have lost people fairly close to us. That wasn’t so last year. So people have been wondering how that will change people’s behaviour to go out. Will it make any difference? I do very strongly believe that eating out, going out, socializing is a core part of our makeup, of the fabric of our daily life. And I don’t think that will change for any reason, I’m optimistic,” he said, adding that like everyone else, he had no sense of what was going to happen with the variances and waves of infection.

The restaurant sector in the US, UK and much of the world has been given a lot of support compared to what it had received in India. The government’s attempt at restructuring debt and giving relief to MSME units were mere crumbs in comparison. Though things had been changing gradually thanks to the efforts of bodies like NRAI which recently did a very interesting and virtual chat with a positive, warm, receptive, supportive Anurag Thakur, the Minister of State for Finance, Government of India, added Singh who is a member of the NRAI Managing Committee.

“We didn’t actually ask for any financial support for ourselves, we asked for help in terms of moratoriums, delays of renewal fees, and looking at adopting policies that will be supportive. We want to once again in a larger way, try and support the people who work for us, because we are one of the largest employers in the country, directly and indirectly,” he said.

“This sector does play that role in a tough world and in tough times to give people a break, some comfort and happiness. At no cost to the government. We are actually paying heavily with taxes and license fees, renewal fees, etc. and making the citizens of our country forget about the troubles on a regular basis. I would imagine that any government would prioritize us very highly, because we’re helping them look after the citizens of the country,” he said in conclusion.

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