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Restaurants at corporate parks, office hubs see sales zoom


NEW DELHI : As employees trickle back to work, cafes and resto-bars located in and around corporate parks and office hubs are reporting early signs of an uptick in demand.

Several chains that had temporarily shuttered outlets inside corporate parks, as covid lockdowns forced companies to adopt the work-from-home model, are now resuming operations of such stores.

“People coming back to work has been a very positive trend in March which is pushing sales beyond December or what we saw pre-third wave. March is looking a little bit better than December,” said Riyaaz Amlani, CEO and managing director, Impresario Handmade Restaurants.

Amlani whose food services company operates brands such as Social and Smoke House Deli said pre-covid, depending on the location, office-goers contributed significantly to businesses for some outlets.

“There was a significant chunk of the business that was missing. It’s great to see it coming back. Definitely by 1 April more and more people will get back into offices,” he said.

Work from home orders at the onset of the pandemic in 2020 resulted in people migrating back to their hometowns. Many firms also adapted to a hybrid office model as the uncertainty around covid-19 waves made it hard to fully resume offices. Restaurants and cafes located in midst of office complexes and corporate parks were significantly impacted by the move.

Restaurant chain Samosa Party will resume operations at its stores located in corporate parks from 1 April. The chain that has over 30 physical outlets and also operates delivery-only kitchens said corporate orders contributed heavily to its business pre-covid.

“Our tech-park partners have been telling us that people have been asked to come back to offices. However, it’s still not in full attendance. After Holi is when more people will come back into Bengaluru; Gurgaon is already seeing more green shoots,” Diksha Pande, co-founder, Samosa Party said.

Pande said Bengaluru, which houses large tech parks, scores of start-ups and other offices, is beginning to recover. “We know of large companies in the city that have asked employees to come back,” she said.

Coffee chain Third Wave Coffee is witnessing an uptick in footfalls and daily orders at stores located near offices.

“What we’re seeing is that a lot of locations, which are in and around offices, typically those have been subdued over the last two years, but we have suddenly seen a surge both in terms of delivery, as well as, dining. The indication that I’m seeing is that there’s been a significant increase in people opening up offices, and coming back into work,” said Sushant Goel, founder at the coffee chain.

Amuleek Singh Bijral, co-founder and CEO, Chai Point said the company’s tea machine business within offices was seeing week-on-week growth. Unlike earlier waves that lasted longer, the dip in business witnessed during the third wave lasted a month.

“Our daily store revenue has come back very fast. Our machines are all on the cloud, so we get to know the rate at which new machines are going live in offices, we get to know the consumption increase in offices spaces. All those statistics from an office standpoint are growing at 150% to 200% week-on-week in terms of the number of cups used. So very clearly people are coming back to offices,” he told Mint.

Growth, he said, is driven by cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Chennai.

In a recent interview with Mint, Navin Gurnaney, India CEO at coffee chain Tim Hortons said it is eyeing corporate parks to drive expansion in the country. The Canadian coffee chain is set to open its first store in the country. A year-and-a-half ago the chain would have ruled out aggressive plans to open stores around office complexes, Gurnaney said. But things are looking different today.

“Occupancies are beginning to improve and people are preparing for that—companies are saying employees want to come back and work from office and are asking for a store. We are certainly considering such stores, our teams are in conversation with a few people,” he said.

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