The four months of unwanted Covid-19 situation has left a devastating impact on the hospitality business in Bengaluru. Small to medium size restaurants and cafes have succumbed to the pressure due to lack of business and fixed costs.
Even after the eateries in Bengaluru have been permitted to operate with all necessary safety and hygiene measures, the struggle has continued. This has been the case with one of the most popular names in the city, Magnolia Bakery.
“We have seen a 40% drop in our sales since the lockdown,” says Zonu Reddy, Co-founder of Magnolia Bakery India. Reddy attributes a big part of the slow down to customers not being able to or hesitant to come into the store. She says, “We have noticed that our customers are very visual buyers, they like to come into the store and see all the scrumptious desserts on display before purchasing.”
There has been a shift in the buying patterns of the customers, believes Reddy. She further adds. “Customers were ordering more products but less frequently. The sales picked up after Unlock 1.0 was initiated by the government.”
Safety and Hygiene Measures
The good thing about the popular eateries in the city is that they utilised the time during the lockdown to prepare themselves for the resumption of business in the ‘new normal’. Just like other eateries, Magnolia Bakery wants to ensure the best dining experience for its customers.
The eatery has installed two Airsteril Safety systems, a product that is being used globally to eliminate most airborne and surface viruses and bacteria. To ensure safe currency transactions, Magnolia Bakery has in place a UV Based currency disinfector at the billing counter, whose surface is also wiped with disinfectant every hour. Customers are required to adhere to the health regulations of wearing masks, sanitizing their hands and maintaining social distancing while inside the premises.
Magnolia Bakery checks the temperature of staff twice a day, along with temperature checks for delivery agents and customers when they arrive at the store. To ensure space for social distancing, the eatery plans on restricting the number of people that enter the store during peak hours and has also reduced the number of tables available for dine-in. Each table and chair is thoroughly sanitized once the customers are done with dining. Staff is provided with a UV sterilizer box for sanitizing their personal items.
Training for the Kitchen and Serving Staff
While everyone ensured hygiene and safety in their own ways in the pre-Covid era, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that, no one was accustomed to this new way of living. Hence, the training of kitchen and serving staff by the eateries will play a crucial rule to ensure that the safety and hygiene measures are followed without any miss.
As a franchise to Magnolia Bakery in New York, the Bengaluru outlet has always followed stringent hygiene standards set by the global team, which includes wearing gloves to handle the food, washing hands every hour and sanitising the countertops multiple times during the day.
“In the current situation, the training provided to the staff was more to do with maintaining social distancing when engaging with the customers and between staff members. We have also trained our kitchen staff with new sanitising methods specific to each type of ingredient they are working with,” adds Reddy.
Delivery vs Takeaway
After the eateries resumed their business recently, a lot of them have been highly dependent on the delivery platforms like Swiggy, Zomato and Dunzo due to less footfall. However, Magnolia Bakery is an exception.
“We were pleasantly surprised to see customers line up at the door when we reopened the store for takeaway orders. A lot of customers said that they were eagerly waiting to get their hands on some of their favorite desserts. Customers are still preferring to come into the store for take-away, hence delivery orders only consist of 20% of our sales,” says Reddy.
Magnolia Bakery has released a whole line of mango based products that were whipped up especially for the Indian market to beat the sweltering heat. They have also launched their ice-cream sandwiches.
One of Magnolia Bakery’s signature products is the Banana Pudding and every month they do a specialty Banana Pudding of the month. This month it is Java Chip Banana Pudding which has vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding, banana, mini chocolate chip cookies and is infused with coffee.
The New Normal
Reddy says, “Magnolia Bakery will leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring a safe and pleasurable dining experience for its customers. With our monthly specials, cupcakes of the week, and take away menu, customers will always have a wide range of options of goodies that we will continue to offer.”
“The circumstances are difficult and dull but we aim to put a smile on our patrons’ faces in every way we can,” concludes Reddy.