Food Studio: In-car dining comes to Oman
If you have been missing your weekend trips to your favourite restaurants in Oman, or been literally fed up of eating restaurant food delivered at home, take heart! A new trend of 'in-car dining' is now picking up in Oman.
You don't have to anymore go through the ordeal of emptying out restaurant food from soggy paperbags and plastic containers into plates on your dining table, or playing steward as well as cleaner during and after the meal. You can enjoy good food as well as service right on your lap in your own car.
Though people in Muscat as well as other towns have been in the habit of enjoying shawarmas and juices served out to them in their cars, The Food Studio Restaurant chain has become a pioneer of 'in-car dining' in Oman by introducing this much sought after service at their outlet along the service road of Falaj al Qabail, in Sohar.
So, to enjoy a good restaurant meal, you simply have to drive up to the restaurant and luxuriou service will unfold on your lap right away. The restaurant staff greet you and convert your car into a personal dining cabin by placing slim dining boards (only as broad as ironing boards) through the windows on the front and back row of seats. These boards rest on the edges of the doors on both sides, with the windows rolled down.
The stewards, who maintain high standards of hygiene and sanitation, then begin their service by first providing the necessary paraphernalia - plates, cutlery, glasses, mineral water and boxes of paper napkins. Based on the order from an elaborate menu, they then serve out the dishes and wait on you, without infringing on your comfort level, until you are meal is complete.
“We started this service of in-car dining on May 28. We figured out this idea from our sister concern advertising company (Al Aseel). This plan has been executed and implemented by our managing director Rasheed Kuzhilangattil,” Tobin Thomas, manager of the restaurant, said, adding, “We also have the same service (in car dining) and facilities at our Food Studio branch in Buraimi.”
Thomas further disclosed that they have floated the in-car dining service to enable diners to enjoy the experience of dining out at their favourite restaurant without any hesitation. Since some diners are wary about visiting restaurants, in view of the risks surrounding the pandemic, the in-car dining service provides them the safe haven of their own car and at the same time gives them the feel of dining out, he asserted.
No extra charges are imposed on diners who opt for this service. The tariff on the menu card is just the same for those who dine in the restaurant as well as for those who choose in-car dining.
“We are concerned about our customers safety and comfort, so we don’t mind spending an extra amount to provide this service for our customers,” he said, adding, “The response from our customers has been very positive on the first day it self. All diners who took this service said they could enjoy their meal in good comfort.”
In car dining service at The Food Studio Restaurant is designed for any type of cars. Over the past week customers have been arriving in different models of cars, sedans as well as SUVS and the staff were able to provide the same service to all with ease, Thomas confirmed. The in-car dining is provided in the car parking area itself without posing any inconvenience to other motorists or people in the area, he added.
Happy to be the pioneers of in-car dining in Oman, Thomas further said, “We have implemented this idea, so that other restaurants also could take this as an example. We need to respect the needs and comfort level of our customers. So, this idea of in-car dining gives them utmost satisfaction, instead of sending them back disappointed.”
Food studio restaurant offers a wide range of cuisines - Indian, Chinese, Arabic and Continental, all of which has been extremely popular because of the expertise of the chefs as well as the service staff. A few more new service ideas are in the pipepline, Thomas said, calling on diners as well as prospective diners to visit their facebook or instagram pages for updates as well as to offer suggestions for improvement.
Lap top dining
The in-car dining experience is new to Oman but is has been prevalent in some parts of the GCC, especially UAE, Kuwait and Qatar as well as in the UK wherein restaurants chose to offer the service during movement restrictions and lockdowns when only foodstores and restaurants were functional.
Most diners flash their hazard lights when they arrive, to signal to the waiters to present the menu card, as well as well as when they need assistance or are done. Some read menus online to avoid touching menu cards as well as place their orders by phone.
While most restaurants provide a sleek tray table that can be placed in front of the steering wheel, just over the laps of those seated, some people prefer to have their own portable turn-tables which can be fitted within the car for dining.
The experience has been welcomed and prefered during the current pandemic, as long as restaurants do not charge extra for the service. Of course, the joy of satisfied diners is always reflected in the tip they leave behind.