Caterers hungry for work, try new strategies to survive

Caterers hungry for work, try new strategies to survive

While restaurants are slowly picking up, caterers are struggling

Many caterers in Bengaluru have closed down for want of business, but some are getting by with new strategies. 

P B Caterers, Kamakshipalya, has recovered only 20 per cent of its pre-pandemic business. Events have resumed, but the guest numbers are small. And margins have come down, says Mamata Hemal Daftary, owner. Keeping in mind customer sentiment, Mamata created some ‘immunity booster’ sweets, which sold well.  “This first-of-a-kind sweet was sugar-free, made with dry fruits, dates, figs, ginger powder and ‘amla’.  We are looking at creating something new for Christmas too,” she says. 

New cuisine

Nidhi’s Kitchen, a catering service based in Begur Road, markets itself through WhatsApp and social media.

Nidhi Mehta, owner, used to get food orders from her apartment complex during the lockdown, as many were looking for home-cooked food. 

“Even now, we get orders from bachelors and men whose wives are away. Parties are not happening, but in the last two months, small groups of 10 to 15 people are booking catering services,” she says.

Labour costs are higher while cooking for fewer people, she observes. Nidhi used to see regular business from kitty parties, but they are rare now. “Marriages have fewer guests. Birthday parties and holiday parties are the ones demanding catering services now,” she says. Nidhi usually serves North Indian and Chinese food, but is trying other cuisines now. “I have started making pizzas, buns and burgers. I’m also into baking, and make chocolates and kulfis,” she adds. 

She plans to make cookies and rum and plum cakes for Christmas. 

Meals to snacks

G2’s Catering Service is focusing on its snacks menu to gain a foothold. Jeetu Raheja, owner, says business was zero during the lockdown. “Now, slowly demand is increasing,” he says.

He has diversified into supplying frozen (ready to fry) snacks that include samosas and spring rolls. “They were in high demand during the lockdown,” says Jeetu. 

Reduced payments

Badrish M N, marketing in-charge, Royal Catering Services, Kammanahalli, says customers are not able to pay the kind of money they were paying earlier. “They negotiate,” he says.  

This has been the toughest year for Royal Catering, which has been in business for nine years.

“Orders for birthday parties and corporate events do not exist now and marriages have scaled down a lot. Orders of Rs one lakh have come down to Rs 25,000 now,” Badrish says.

Manu Kumar, owner, Sri Annapoorneshwari Catering Services, RR Nagar, says no profit is in sight for at least six to seven months. Business is at 20 per cent of what it used to be earlier. “We would get big orders for company events but those are not happening now. Even at
non-IT companies only 30 per cent of the staff is working now,” he says. 

He has had to let go of his staff. “We have cut down. Fewer weddings, housewarming and naming ceremonies are taking place,” he says.

How are caterers surviving?

Cutting labour

Paying per event 

Diversifying

Creating new menus