Lockdown foils eatery owners

Lockdown foils eatery owners

Eased restrictions baffle operators

A fast food chain resumes business following the government's measures to allow food deliveries. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
A fast food chain resumes business following the government's measures to allow food deliveries. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Restaurant operators remain unhappy with the government's latest decision to ease restrictions for restaurants and eateries at malls in dark red zones, allowing them to sell food via delivery using online platforms.

Atchara Burarak, founder and creative director of Iberry Group, operator of Kub Kao Kub Pla, Ros'niyom and Thongsmith restaurants, said despite the easing of restrictions, her company does not think it is worthwhile reopening restaurants located at malls.

She said reopening entails fixed costs such as rental, while it is inconvenient as staff have to carry food to drivers on the first floor.

Most restaurants are located on the higher floors of malls and delivery drivers are not allowed to access those locations to pick up food.

"The government should allow customers to buy food by themselves at the restaurants, but with a limited number allowed to pick up food each time to reduce congestion," said Ms Atchara.

"I understand this measure prevents people from visiting shopping complexes, but it is not convenient for customers."

Teerapat Lertsiriprapa, chief executive of Kouen Group, operator of Kouen Japanese restaurant, said it is difficult for restaurant operators to run their business because of uncertainty about government measures.

"In July, the government announced restrictions on restaurants because of high infections," said Mr Teerapat.

"Now, amid daily reports of rising infections, we are allowed to resume operations at retail complexes for delivery. I'm very confused by the state order."

He said more than 70% of restaurant operators have shifted to cloud kitchens outside retail complexes to curb losses.

"We believe 50% of restaurants will not reopen at retail complexes because it is not worth the investment. We don't know how to manage a branch with rent of 400,000 baht for a 200-square-metre restaurant," said Mr Teerapat.

"It is odd if you are at a mall and have to use an app to order food and wait for riders to pick up it for you."

Prapat Siangchan, deputy chief operating officer at Minor Food Group, franchiser of brands such as Burger King, Sizzler, The Pizza Company, Dairy Queen and Swensen's, said the company is ready to resume operations at 400 restaurants from a total of 600.

"It is impractical to prohibit takeaway for customers. Sales from delivery services still do not offset the huge drop in our dine-in business. The government should allow us to resume takeaway service as we are ready to address its concerns," Mr Prapat said. The company will evaluate customer response at its outlets at malls every 5-7 days, he said.

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