How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis


“Our industry has literally come to a grinding halt,” says Sridhar Natarajan, son of Chennai’s legendary caterer Arusuvai Arasu. After 4 busy many years of cooking for weddings, non secular ceremonies and enormous occasions, Arasuvai’s stoves had been turned off when the lockdown to deal with COVID-19 started.

“I have about 130 catering staff and 30 administrative staff: I spend close to ₹7.5 lakh per month on salaries,” says Sridhar. “Since March 15, bookings for weddings started getting cancelled. Some have been postponed to September, but a majority have been postponed indefinitely,” he states, including that he’s now busy returning advance funds collected from purchasers.

Ladling out concepts

In the meantime, they’ve launched a house catering service, Homely Fresh Foods, to stay afloat. Sridhar’s sister Soumya Ramesh says as well as to offering them with an inconme to stay afloat, this permits them to “stay in touch with our customers.”

Homely Fresh Foods provides a “breakfast combo” comprising one kilogram of dosa batter, together with a litre of sambar, in addition to filter espresso decoction. To encourage clients to subscribe month-to-month, they’ve incentives similar to a dosa tawa and idli cooker.

How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis

“We imagine that our clients should get the satisfaction of making ready idli or dosa sizzling and contemporary, which is why we determined to embrace batter,” says Soumya. “We are additionally experimenting with sambar and rasam packs, the place one has to simply boil greens together with the premix and put together the dish,” Sridhar provides.

How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis
How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis

S Ganesan, of Subham Ganesan Catering Services, who has been in the area for 25 years, says that his “cash inflow is now zero”. Over the previous couple of months, he has catered for only one small wedding carried out at a shopper’s house in Rajakilpakkam. “We ready a easy muhurtha saapad (wedding feast), which was served in the automotive park. For big caterers like us, who’re used to serving meals for 3,000 friends, this was such a distinction,” says Ganesan.

How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis

He provides that wedding menus will want to be modified to be certain they’re cost-effective, as individuals might not be keen to splurge any extra.

Well-known wedding caterer LV Pattappa’s son, Balaji Pattappa, of Pattappa Catering Service, says at the least one lakh individuals are depending on the wedding business for his or her livelihood in and round Chennai.

How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis

He explains that Chennai has virtually 750 massive, medium and small wedding halls, with about 1,000 weddings carried out throughout these venues during ‘auspicious’ months. “With a number of restrictions and physical distancing in place we do not know if, going forward, weddings will be conducted in a grand manner. What are we to do? It is a big blow after being in this service for four decades,” he states.

Balaji provides, “Through March and April I could somehow pay my staff. They are not on our payroll, but work with us only for weddings, yet they have nowhere else to go, so I am responsible for their welfare.”

He explains that the majority caterers rent big kitchen areas in the metropolis, which additionally they use as godowns to inventory uncooked materials. “We have to pay the rent for these. We have mini trucks, purchased on loan, and have to pay EMIs.” He provides, “I don’t see any weddings being conducted till October, which means we need to stay afloat for well over five months.”

How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis

To do that, Balaji has launched Pattappa’s Sweets and Savouries, which shall be house delivered based mostly on pre-orders. He says he’s additionally considering launching “carrier meals”.

Ganesan, who already has shops promoting sweets and savouries at Mandaveli, T Nagar and Pallikaranai, says that he plans to supply takeaway breakfast, lunch and dinner at his shops after the lockdown. “Currently, my plan is to supply a combo, conserving the value inexpensive.

Feeling the pinch

Lakshmi Narayanan of Sri Lakshmi Narayana Catering Service, who often caters to small and medium weddings, says he’s now engaged on returning all the advance fee collected, although he wants it to pay his workers of 20.

He can also be in search of an area alongside the freeway on the outskirts, in and round Red Hills, to arrange a takeaway restaurant. His concept is to make a nominal revenue, by promoting staples similar to idli/dosa, lemon rice, sambar rice and birinji rice, so as to present two sq. meals for his workers and their households, lots of whom plan to work as agricultural labourers in the surrounding villages.

Although these enterprises are unlikely to usher in the form of income that weddings do, the caterers say they are going to be helpful as a stop-gap association, and preserve their workers employed.

How wedding caterers find innovative ways to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis

“I belong to the sixth generation of my family that is into catering,” says Balaji. He provides, “We imagine that ours is a noble career. We are the samayal kalaignargal, who’ve offered feasts for a lot of weddings and celebrations, serving up to 5,000 friends. Look at the irony of the scenario, now we’re left with out even one sq. meal a day.”

Septuagenarian LV Pattappa, who has been in the area since he was 16, says that less complicated weddings would possibly turn out to be the norm. “Caterers have to brace themselves to cater to 200 to 500 guests instead of 1,000 to 2,000 or more. Weddings could be conducted over two days, inviting batches of guests for different events.”he says.

Meals for just a few: The Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) regulation was handed by the Indian Parliament in 1971 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The regulation restricted/banned the public gathering of over 150 individuals, and this affected the wedding celebrations these days. When Arusuvai Arasu and LV Pattappa had been the new entrants in the enterprise, they confronted a set again then. “But the law was in force just for few weeks, therefore we were not affected like now,” says Pattappa

Pattappa means that caterers may make use of contract staff on rotation, the place there shall be jobs for 20 to 30 individuals per wedding. He doesn’t imagine that purchasers will lower prices for weddings even post-COVID19.

He states, “There is no chance of reduced rates, as the traditional wedding feast has a set menu which no one would want to compromise on”.

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