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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Curfew rumours, confusion hit restaurant footfall in Pune on New Year’s Eve

Though the Maharashtra government declared a night curfew from 9pm to 6am for the New Year's Eve, it had exempted restaurants. However, rumours that restaurants would shut early took a toll on the business.

Written by Ashish Chandra | Pune |
Updated: January 5, 2022 7:29:18 am
Rumours that restaurants would shut early took a toll on the business | Express photo by Arul Horizon

Just when the coronavirus pandemic was appearing to abate, with infections and hospital occupancy falling in Pune, came the Omicron variant, upsetting the new year plans of many restaurateurs who were expecting huge footfall on the occasion.

Though the Maharashtra government declared a night curfew from 9pm to 6am for the New Year’s Eve, it had exempted restaurants. However, rumours that restaurants would shut early took a toll on the business.

Said Navtej Sawhney, a chef and the owner of the restaurant Arthur’s Theme, “For the New Year’s Eve, we had loads of reservations but because of this (rumour), people started calling to ask whether we were open or not. So we had to call our reserved guests to inform them that we were open. In the end, we were able to get 80 per cent of our bookings for the night but the number of walk-in dining was not up to our expectation.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Palash Roy, manager of the Baan Tao restaurant at Hyatt Pune, which too had low footfall and “faced a lot of cancellations due to the curfew and traffic restrictions. Some 20-25 table reservations were cancelled, said Roy.

And Abhishek Khan, manager of Prem Restaurant, said the restaurant got empty before 11pm even though it was open till midnight.

According to Sanjeev Dutt, general manager of German Bakery, footfall at the restaurant’s Law College Road branch was very low as roads such as FC Road were closed. “However, in the Koregaon Park branch, we had good footfall not just on the eve of the new year but also on the first of January, thanks to the Mumbai crowd who flocked to the hotels in Koregaon Park because of fears about night curfew in Mumbai,” said Dutt.

Dr Sonam Kapse, owner of Terrasinne, was optimistic, though. “Even though we are struggling with the 50 per cent seating restriction, we are satisfied as having some business is better than having no business at all. We hope things get better for everybody.”

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