Beyond Pandemic: Innovation can save Restaurant Business in Bangladesh

The covid-19 disease has made millions of people around the globe sick. It has also made the economies around the globe vulnerable as well. Bangladesh is facing a stagnant situation since early March of 2020. The country is suffering from the virus and also taking heat from the economic sluggishness.

People of the large cities of the country Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet have a common way to enjoy their leisure time and interact with the others. At the restaurants. But the mushrooming of the restaurants around the cities is left with no choice but to remain shut the entire period. The owners fear that their businesses are going into the tunnel of no return. The question is why in just three months the owners are finding it hard to survive?


Image Courtesy: Six Seasons Hotel, Dhaka

The answer is the very own nature of the Bangladeshi culture. The first two quarters of the calendar considered to be a cash cow for restaurant businesses. Thanks to special occasions like Pahela Falgun (First day of Falgun month of Bengali Calender), Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Women’s Day, Independence Day, Pahela Baishakh (Bengali New Year) and the list goes on. On top of everything the month of Ramadan remains to be the most prolific month of the year. All came in the first two quarters of this year.

But this year has been a catastrophe for the restaurants. All the occasions are gone and they could not make any revenue out of it due to nationwide lockdown. They expected to make 50% of the yearly revenues from March to May alone. The numbers are showing grim faces now. Some however , try to pull off by serving through online platforms like Pathao Food, Food Panda, Uber Eats. while the sales can barely cover the fixed cost.

Iftar Market at Chwakbazar, Dhaka. Image Courtesy: The Daily Star

This dilapidated scene will continue even after the lockdown is over. Restaurants will not be allowed to use their entire spaces due to social distancing guidelines. The late hour of opening up the stores will also be discouraged. Even the customers will not dine in for health safety concerns.

It is now up to the innovative ideas of the restaurant business professionals as to how they will survive in this economic hardship. How can they keep the jobs of a couple of million restaurant workers and how they can make more alternative delivery channels to reach the customers?

Taste, quality and service used to be the defined factors of restaurant business. Now innovation will add up with those requirements.

A Feature by- Abdullah Ishak Khan, works at Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority.  He can be reached at: [email protected]

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