Rest and relax, while you are inside. But if you are feeling the agony, embrace it because the rumours are true: here comes a revolution as soon as doors open again.
Many experts in the restaurant industry have expressed that businesses are at the brink of death, as COVID-19 has swallowed up a whole industry in a matter of days. But the weaknesses of the industry businesses was not public knowledge to devour. Most of the facts related to the hardships of the people in this industry were truths that only the insider was privy to. The workers have, since long, been under-praised for their service.
Survival in the service industry is burdensome. When restaurants were open, there was so much going on. You couldn’t be absent even if you are eyewateringly sick, as people are counting on you to deliver an experience that is going to knock someone’s socks off. However bringing your A-game forward has not just been harder and harder, it has not paid off well either. Many restaurants are scared to pick pace and thus, have hesitated to open doors again.
But beware: don’t take it lightly when you are ready. This time, you will face the wrath of employees who will fight for their rights.
The Kalyug Age
How unfortunate that the restaurants employing more than 700,000 people in India are so bogged by the decimated visibility of their brand. But on the edge, the question that is still relevant remains: what will they do to salvage workers’ rights? Will they do anything at all? Will the fight for unionisation be the future of hospitality? Sounds to me like the revolution which was sure to happen gradually in the restaurant industry is going to take place now.
When death comes to greet you, you meet him as a welcome friend than a gruesome foe. However those who are seeing the impact immediately are feeling anger and resentment as things begin to fall apart. They shall not be stepping down without a fight. Restaurants, big and small, might rise again with a bombshell of new trends that will attract dining guests sooner or later but the atmosphere behind the scenes is going to perpetrate immensely.
Many of us hope the situation turns in the workers’ favour. But if employees throw spaghetti on walls to rebel against the poor work pay, this movement may die down before it even begins.
Some restauranteurs are pro-community industry experts. Their restaurants are a vehicle for revolution unto themselves– catalysts for the boundary-pushing socio-cultural and economic evolution of the country. Through their input, things have progressed far more than we know in this gigantic circus inspite of trials and tribulations.
I agree that there are many flaws too but if you are going to revolt rashly against a part of the system that we all know is crippling, then you may push away those people who may be willing to support you.
As doors open, it is slightly pushing it too far to conclude that guests will always stand up and support their favourite restaurant. Pro-community industry experts will agree that the change has to, most probably, come from within. But it has to come slowly and steadily, not by venting out one’s emotions.
A Plea: Celebrate Employees, Who Are the Heart, Soul and Brand.
The channel between the customer and the server has incentivised a new dialogue. When you factor how people are feeling the heaviness of loneliness in the new world, you clearly see how restaurants bring our emotions to the fore that stand in stark contrast to our disdain towards the turmoil. The person we meet as well as the server who we come in contact with at the restaurants seem to inherit, or at the very least, understand all our idealistic hopes that we bring with us in the desire to have a good time.
If employees have to return to their jobs with a hanging face, feeling unrequited, not only will their career growth suffer badly but their families will have to pay the price. No matter how tough things get, I urge restauranteurs not to break up with their work family.
Small businesses have taken the worst hit. Support them by ordering in. Beyond that, it will take a two-way channel between the government and the restauranteurs to give employees relief in the pressure test. It will also take a lot of commitment from the leader – the boss, and the investors to pay for the employees’ small and big expenditures as long as the lockdown is imposed.
Time is passing. The pandemic has left us in confusion, but to abandon the playground to save yourself first is exactly what you need to avoid. It is true that the cost of rent, imported foods, and the lack of safety are the issues that the restauranteurs need to deal with first. But in the meantime, do not forget to take care of the people who work hard to make your restaurant a success.
Currently a food and travel writer, Aishwarya Khanna is also a graduate from The University of Edinburgh. She is currently in India. Please see this section to know more about Aishwarya.