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Last nail in coffin: Weekend curfew looms over Delhi restaurateurs

The decision on weekend curfew comes days after the AAP government had imposed night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30. Delhi has recorded around 24,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest daily rise so far, according to data shared by Kejriwal on Saturday.

By: PTI |
April 18, 2021 1:20:24 pm
"Our sales in comparison to regular weekends have gone down by 90 per cent," said Mohit Ahuja, owner of Shakespeare Cafe, Punjabi Bagh.(PTI)

Some decided to shut down, others downsized their staff and almost all registered a dip in the number of home deliveries as the weekend curfew in Delhi brought with it a sense of deja vu for restaurant owners. It is business “far from usual” for them, counting on their losses even on weekend, the days that have traditionally raked in the moolah for the food and beverage industry.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a curfew this weekend and the closure of malls, dine-in services at restaurants till April 30 as part of sweeping restrictions to contain the spiralling coronavirus infections. The decision on weekend curfew comes days after the AAP government had imposed night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30. Delhi has recorded around 24,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest daily rise so far, according to data shared by Kejriwal on Saturday.

“Our sales in comparison to regular weekends have gone down by 90 per cent,” said Mohit Ahuja, owner of Shakespeare Cafe, Punjabi Bagh. “We’ve asked only the kitchen staff to come since we are only delivering this weekend. The situation is really bad and our sales, our suffering irreparable,” Ahuja said. Prashant Karan, director Junkyard Cafe, Saket, rued that the announcement of weekend restrictions slashed the sales “drastically”.

Though getting orders from regular customers, Aakriti Sawhney, owner MeMy Caf, Chhatarpur, said delivery orders on partner food apps saw a “considerable downward slope. Sawhney added that almost 30 per cent of her staff was left with no work as dine-in facility had been ordered to shut.

Reve, a French bistro in Aerocity, said there was no option but to shut down the place completely as overhead charges would have cost them more than what they call the “minimal” sales out of home-delivery orders. “Staff has been asked to stay home safe until further orders. Also, since our restaurant location is not in a residential area so we expect very few or nominal orders,” Yadav said.

The restaurants, according to industry experts, had just begun to see 35-40 per cent of occupancy after a long lull following the coronavirus lockdown last year. “Things were finally looking up and the hospitality industry had only just started to recover when the night curfew and weekend lockdown got imposed again,” Riyaaz Amlani, MD and CEO, Impresario Handmade Restaurants (SOCIAL, Smoke House Deli and Boss Burger).

“This will probably be the final nail in the coffin for the F&B industry. A major chunk of our business happens during the weekends,” Amlani said. “Delivery and cloud kitchens will in no way, shape or form help restaurants survive another lockdown.”

Pushed to the wall, the restaurants, trying to make the best of the home-delivery option available at the moment, are requesting customers to order directly from them and not through food aggregators so they can save on commissions and somehow tide over these difficult times — yet again. “In a pure delivery environment, a kitchen would lose money no matter how much the revenue is,” said Sumit Goyal, owner of Gastronomica, Greater Kailash 1. “We’re trying hard via our social media requesting our guests to order directly so we can survive but most customers prefer using aggregators,” he added.

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