“Hit by Covid pandemic, 20% of Pune restaurants may never reopen,” shouted a creepy headline in ToI, precisely two weeks back. The chilling prediction was enough to curdle the blood of the fainthearted. As the restaurant I conceived and cofounded with Varad & Makarand completes eleven years today, the prediction is certainly not amusing.
Not surprisingly, my thoughts today go back exactly a year to my post titled ‘The second coming’. I had concluded by saying, “Today, on its tenth anniversary, our restaurant is not just re-starting; it is virtually re-starting up!” Alas, the situation remains exact same, except that we now find ourselves in a deeper hole.
Speaking of deeper holes, how can I forget the beautiful Article titled ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy – let’s keep digging a deeper hole’ by Pei Ying CHUA, an exceptionally gifted economist and an even better writer. The sunk cost effect is the general tendency for people to continue an endeavour, if they’ve already invested something in it. As Pei cautions, “The effect becomes a fallacy when it pushes people to make stupid decisions that cause them to become even worse off.”
The ToI report claims that about 700 eateries in Pune may not open their shutters again. I am quietly confident that we will not be among them. It was not among the 10% predicted to close down in 2020. Is it the Sunk Cost Fallacy that is keeping us in the game? As an observer, one might say, “These guys are throwing good money after bad money.”
As a player though, there is a whole lot more to the game. Every opportunity to stay in the game is itself a small win. There are millions who don’t even get to play the game. It is a virtual sacrilege to quote Donald Trump on anything these days, but I must. “Money was never a big motivation for me. The real excitement is playing the game,” Trump had said.
As an entrepreneur, you get an illusion of being the chosen one, and it’s a kick hard to resist. But it would be unfair to attribute entrepreneurs’ perseverance solely to this high. It is more about accountability. An employee may simply quit if salaries are unpaid. As an employer, you feel obliged to not just save the organisation, but also the jobs.
I believe businesses have similar accountability towards customers. As a customer, I know how my heart sinks repeatedly at the realisation that I can no longer savour the outstanding delicacies of unassuming eateries like Appa, Prabha, and Janaseva. Pune’s food crown today is not the same without these jewels. My restaurant is too precious to go the same way.
We have too many devoted foodies to care for; we simply cannot let them down. We did re-open the shutters yesterday at 50% capacity, fully conscious that this Covid situation is the moment of truth for us. Entrepreneurship is widely acknowledged as a contact sport, so it would be naïve to believe that the second wave would leave us unscathed. But I bet we will come out of it. Perhaps bruised, but definitely battle-hardened!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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