How does dining during the new normal look? Here's what we found in the top eateries in Hyderabad
As diners get ready to visit their favourite eateries after months of waiting to enjoy a meal outside, they might find out that their experience is likely to be vastly different now. From menus via Instagram highlights to QR Codes and hotel staff in masks and PPEs as though you’ve entered the set of a dystopian movie, these are the facets of new normal. You may also find that handshakes that were usually extended to regulars have now been replaced by a cordial namaste. Extra caution about keeping the premises spick and span according to World Health Organisation standards is a standard protocol now. Restaurants are no longer permitted to run at full capacity and the buffet lines might not be the usual sight anymore.
Sudeep Sharma, general manager of Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre and Courtyard by Marriott Hyderabad tells us about the preparations that they had to undertake before they opened their fine-dine outlet Okra. “With redefined seating layout and contactless service, we are bound to stick to the new physical distancing norms. Seeing the staffers in protective gear with frequent hand sanitisation schedules, pre-shift temperature checks and repeated disinfection of surfaces and kitchen equipment have become routine now,” he says. That apart, there are mandatory temperature checks of people walking in to dine.
No room to err
Meanwhile, there are such quaint tea rooms in Hyderabad, where safety is assured by closed doors and private dining areas, thereby making distancing mandatory just by the set-up. Morsel & Tisane Co.at Banjara Hills is one such place where semi-private booths automatically ensure social distancing. “Enjoy those long-overdue conversations with old friends, cosy and safe in the booths,” says Amrit Dugar, who founded the tea house along with wife Nimisha. Even cafés are far more strict than they used to be.
At Orka Café in Jubilee Hills, we discovered that the temperature of the guests is duly written down. “We wanted our customers to dine without any feeling of doubt or fear of their safety within Orka,” says Nobin John, the founder. We spotted sanitiser stands at high touchpoints and each table had disposable cutlery. There are protocols like rigorous fumigation and deep cleaning that’s carried out every 48 hours and the staff behind their glass kitchen worked with hand gloves, mask and hair cap. Their temperatures, we hear, are monitored three times a day.
At Mercure Hyderabad KCP that opened their restaurant Cayenne, we gathered that there’s personnel constantly monitoring the COVID-19 hygiene details. Soumitra Pahari, general manager of the hotel confirms it. “There are 16 fundamentals including an ALLSAFE Officer, which is an extension of a member’s role and an add on to their current responsibilities, just so safety parameters are in order,” he says.
Tables and seating facilities at their restaurant have been rearranged and placed at a safe distance of at least two meters to maintain social-distancing norms. Buffet services have been discontinued. Each employee is provided with a three-ply mask that they replace with new ones every four hours. All food handlers undergo a mandatory hand swab test and full body check-up frequently. Also, we find out that here microbiological food tests are conducted through external labs.
Keeping the spirits high
Aman Chainani, the Hyderabad-based partner of Farzi Café Hyderabad elaborates that they have a brand new ‘stress-free dining’ initiative in place. They started it as soon as they welcomed their guests back after the restrictions lifted.
“We disinfect the entire kitchen every two hours. The front of the house team ensures the disinfection of the tables and chairs before seating any guests and after they’ve completed dining as well,” he says. We also find out that the crockery and cutlery used at the restaurant are sterilised at 150 degrees celsius and kept inside a warmer till it reaches to the dinner. At some of the places that we visited recently, apart from restricting the number of diners and taking in reservations, they also have employed fun methods to indicate the necessity of social distancing.
At Roastery Coffee, where a packed line was once spotted, limited seating is the order of the day. Nishant Sinha, the owner of the outlet shares, “We are improving gradually. We started dine-in almost after two months of government permission with only 30 per cent tables so that guests and staff feel safe.” What we really like is the idea of having life-size teddy bears occupy some tables to denote distancing. Looks like, Hyderabadis have found a way to keep things fun even as they try to get a semblance of normalcy in the post-pandemic world.