Had anyone said in April 2020 that Indian food delivery unicorn Zomato would soon announce announce Moneycontrol Zomato plans to file for IPO in 2021 first half Read more plans to go public in the first half of 2021, they would have been laughed at.

Zomato and arch-rival Swiggy saw their orders plunge 70% 70% The Economic Times Zomato, Swiggy orders drop 70% in 10 Days Read more in the initial days of India’s lockdown. And in May, Zomato laid off 520 520 NDTV Zomato to Lay Off Over 500 Employees, Announces Up to 50 Percent Pay Cut For Rest Read more employees, or 13% of its workforce, as the pandemic cast a worrying shadow on its future. Swiggy immediately followed suit followed suit Mint After Zomato, foodtech unicorn Swiggy to lay off 1,100 people Read more .

The pandemic has been a bundle of contradictions for the food industry globally. The initial weeks of the lockdowns saw a spate of restaurant closures closures The Wall Street Journal With Indoor Dining Upended, Some Restaurants Call It Quits Read more and mass layoffs, as the industry stared at an existential crisis existential crisis The Ken The new math for India’s $50 billion restaurant industry Read more . After that came the surge surge Reuters Delivery Hero second-quarter orders surge during lockdowns Read more in online orders, as customers tried to make up for not being able to go out for a meal.

Then, as lockdown restrictions were gradually eased, restaurants started betting on a recovery, led by a rise in demand for takeaway orders. And public-market investors, both in India and elsewhere, couldn’t wait to get in on the action.

In December, the Rs 810 crore (US$110 million) initial public offering (IPO) of Burger King India, the Indian franchisee of the global fast-food chain, attracted bids that were nearly 160 160 Indian Express Explained: Will investors gain on Burger King IPO listing day?