Every afternoon, Ameerpet’s renowned Kakatiya Deluxe Mess, which serves delicious Andhra meals, turns into nothing short of a fish market. Noisy and vibrant, chaotic and quick paced. The system in place, for serving upwards of 700 people in a time span of two hours, is quite smooth.
None of the 15 tables are empty at any given point, especially between 12.30 and 2.30 pm. The crowd flows in and out, and no one stops except to pay `90 for a meal and `120 for a parcel at the counter, in cash, while entering the mess or while on their way out. “At least 800 people used to visit the mess on a daily basis a month ago,” says Srinivas, the manager. However, demonetisation of higher denomination notes has hit business.
After initial sluggishness, gradually at least 500 people come in a day now, a month after the decision was announced by the government.
“Business was dull for a week or so, a few days after the announcement was made because there was no cash anywhere. We accepted old notes till December 2, but not after that. The biggest problem currently is that we have no change for `2,000 notes,” rues Srinivas.
Providing food on credit was never a part of their business model — only cash. “They have to pay at the counter, it’s pretty quick. Pay and move. But now, we are open to credit,” shares Srinivas showing us the diary kept at the counter, in which he notes down names and phone numbers of people who are unable pay cash.
“How can you send away a hungry person only because they do not have change? Most of the people who come to eat here are regular customers, so we don’t mind. They pay back when they can. For those who are new, we obtain their phone numbers. But people have been kind enough to pay us back, though slightly later,” adds Srinivas. They have applied for a PoS machine (card swiping machine) which they are yet to receive. “That should ease the problem a bit,” he says.
Diagonally opposite the mess is the Kakatiya Take Away which has also been affected, but not as much. “Though a majority of our customers send in their office boys, they also order through food delivery apps. It is a small margin, but it does exist. We too accepted old notes for a while and are awaiting the PoS machine,” says Ratna Shekhar, owner of the mess.