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As the voice of the Indian restaurant industry, we represent the interests of 500000+ restaurants & an industry valued @ USD 4 billion. Whether a chain or independent restaurant, the NRAI is here to help every step of the way. Join us!


The Man Who Saved Hospitality Industry With Quick Thinking



Anurag Katriar, 49
NRAI President And Director, DeGustibus

A week before the lockdown was announced in India, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) announced the closure of dining-in options. “For the safety of our staff as well as customers, it was the right thing to do until we understood the situation better,” Anurag Katriar, president of NRAI tells us, 10 months on.

Little did they know that the pandemic would bring the hospitality industry to its knees. “It has cropped the trade, sure, but not finished it,” Katriar says, in his usual confident, positive tone.

The fear of the pandemic, economic downturn and job losses marred spendings and an industry which thrives on footfall, fell silent. In the past two months, it has been stealthily crawling back to a new normal. Temperature checks at entrances, no-contact seating, online menus and telescopic sanitisation process. “To keep a restaurant afloat in such a time is difficult. We have people cost, energy costs, rentals, the challenge of generating income through home deliveries,” he says, adding, that job losses in the industry have been the worse outcome. “Restaurant revenues halved, delivery is a different business game and the margins are thin.”

All said, he got to work in March with a new mission: to bring the industry together and spread hope for better times. The crusade began with ensuring audience with excise and economic departments of the government for waivers on taxes and GST. “If we got relief from paying licences, the resources could be used to take care of human needs and keep the kitchen fires burning. But the announcement of the R20 crore relief fund didn’t extend any relief to the hospitality industry,” he explains.

NRAI has led the conversation around reduced rents and profit-sharing agreements to be rewritten. “We are not going to make any money till the third quarter next year. It is like relaunching a business,” says Katriar.

But, the real challenge was to create guidelines for smooth functioning of restaurants in the pandemic, and pave the way for ideas and implementations for hygiene and sanitisation processes. To make it palatable, they created training videos for the staff. “When we saw it was helpful, we opened it up even for non-members. Anyone can download it from the site.”

Katriar initiated collaborations with Pernod Richard and Beam Suntory to raise funds under Rise for Bars to be able to direct transfer a sum of R5000 to 4,500 bartenders across the country. With Pepsi, they distributed 2.4 million ration kits to over 5,000 employees.

After a successful launch of Dotpe.in, a WhatsApp platform for home delivery, coming up is a loyalty programme, sans aggregators. “To protect the industry, we have designed a loyalty programme that is solely between restaurant and customer, no middleman,” he adds.

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