As is the case for most businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic presented significant challenges. In response, Rehan Uddin, the owner of Bombay Express, had to adapt his business model to survive.
These adjustments – together with the grants and government support on offer – meant that the business has done more than just survive. In part, this was due to the pandemic giving Rehan the opportunity to step back from the day to day running of his restaurant and spend time investing, re-evaluating his goals, and planning for the future.
This meant that by the time Bombay Express was able to re-open, the restaurant had undergone a total refurbishment centred around the COVID-19 guidelines – reducing the seating capacity in the main restaurant area from 60 to 42, thereby allowing the dining table setup to comply with social distancing regulations.
As Rehan explains:
“COVID-19 isn’t going to disappear anytime soon; we all have to learn to live in this new world. We have spent the past year tweaking and improving our service, restructuring our dining area, and carefully revising our practices to ensure that we meet all the safety guidelines. This has allowed us to reopen confident in the safety of our customers.”
A short video now accompanies every confirmed booking at Bombay Express. This video prepares customers for how their dining experience will unfold. It outlines what is expected from them, explains why such rules are in place, and emphasises how essential it is to stick to the guidelines so that everyone can enjoy a safe dining experience.
The confirmation video also offers customers a reminder of the correct way to wear a face covering – which needs to be worn at all times other than when sitting at a table.
Some of the other COVID-19 safety measures introduced by Bombay Express include having your temperature taken on arrival, checking in via Track & Trace, and following a certain process when accessing the restrooms.
For those customers who prefer it, there is also the option to order and pay for their meal while sitting at a table, using a mobile phone, in order to avoid any unnecessary contact.
As Rehan says:
“We take staff and customer safety extremely seriously, and have spent a lot of time ensuring we are fully compliant with all the latest guidelines. Torbay Council and TDA have been exceptional in keeping us informed and up to date with the latest guidance, and in helping us access government grants and funding.”
Rehan feels very optimistic for the summer and the year ahead, and expects to run his restaurant at maximum capacity for much of the extended summer season:
“With foreign travel still looking unlikely, and with TripAdvisor recently announcing Torquay as the top trending staycation destination, the Bay is going to be quite busy! It is down to the local businesses to ensure all the relevant measures are in place, to maximise the opportunities that come their way, and to welcome visitors safely. In fact, now may be a great chance to make Torbay a year-round visitor destination”.
When asked if he had any advice for other local businesses who were feeling nervous about re-opening,
Rehan replied: “We will be living in this new world for a while, so don’t wait for anything to change – get ready, prepare, and open up your doors! Don’t be afraid to tell customers what to do in terms of following the rules and emphasising why they are in place. Customers will appreciate knowing exactly what they are expected to do – whether it be the systems in place when dining in, or for collecting a takeaway.
You can book a table at Bombay Express through their website at
bombayexpresstorquay.com/book or by calling the restaurant on
Bombay Express is open from 5:30pm to 10pm, Tuesdays to Sundays.