ON SATURDAY afternoon, hours before the crowd usually pours in, Ivan Ravi Pinto, manager of Lady Baga restaurant, is helping the staff pick up the rubble outside. Inside, instead of setting up tables for patrons, an assortment of waiters and kitchen staff are packing perishable items onto a mini truck to be taken away.
The entry to the beach-themed restaurant lies mangled. A few feet away, heaps of debris lie at the doorstep of the string of restaurants in Oasis City, an annexe of the Kamala Mills Compound in Lower Parel.
A day ahead of New Year’s Eve, guests had to be turned away from many leading restaurants. Until a few hours ago, these restaurants were busy planning New Year’s specials, but the BMC’s crackdown against illegal restaurants, pubs and eateries has put a stop to the plans.
What used to be the city’s most sought-after entertainment hub just two days ago, now lies in ruins, disappointing revellers who wanted to ring in the New Year with a party at the posh neighbourhood.
“It does not look possible for us to be open for New Year’s Eve. We are now waiting for a nod from authorities, but most of our utilities have been demolished,” said Pinto. While Lady Baga had decided to remain shut on December 31 in a mark of respect to victims of the Kamala Mills fire on Friday, the demolitions are likely to have a longer impact.
The restaurant, much like the others in the Kamala Mills compound that face the axe, may not be able to resume operations for a couple of days.
Civic authorities razed utilities such as exhaust fans, gas supply and water supply from the rear of Oasis City.
Even as restaurants at the Worli end of Kamala Mills were dealing with the debris left behind by the BMC, civic authorities prepared to raze encroachment at Smaaash, one of the city’s prominent gaming arcades.
Despite the demolition, the management of Smaaash remained hopeful that it would be up and running by Sunday afternoon. “We will definitely try to be up by Sunday and be open for New Year’s Eve,” said Kamlesh Naik, its president of corporate affairs and director of compliance.
However, with authorities cutting off water and power supply, not many restaurants were hopeful.
Confusion prevailed throughout the day among restaurateurs who did not know when business could resume.
“We have no idea what to do now. We want to be able to start business by Sunday evening, but we don’t know if that would be possible,” said a management representative of POH. Meanwhile, many restaurants, fearing demolition, manually removed boards and parapets that they feared might be jutting out over the permissible limits for construction.
While not many revellers and patrons turned up on Saturday, the few who did had to leave immediately.
“We’d come to Smaaash for my niece’s first birthday. There was a party, so I brought both my kids along. Now we have to move the party someplace else,” said Rimpy Shah, an Andheri resident.