BENGALURU: With the idea of the weekend as good as dead, the city’s wine, dine and party scene is looking at an existential crisis. Pub hub Bengaluru, with its plethora of fine dining restaurants and variety cuisine, catered to all -- the family dinner sorts, the techie crowd and the party animals. Friday night parties would usually roll over into Saturday, and then there was Sunday to cool off. Party halls in clubs were sought after, as were budget restaurants which catered to the middleclass, and business boomed. Gone are those days. With the first Covid-induced lockdown delivering a blow in the solar plexus last year, most of them are yet to recover from a financial crisis.
Hundreds of small eateries downed their shutters within the first three months as they were unable to pay rent. The takeaway business initially provided city folks with a glimmer of hope, but soon paranoia took over and business dwindled. The rules, regulations and restrictions imposed by the government on hotels and catering units put the brakes on small takeaway joints which could not afford the manpower or machinery required to follow all the SOPs.
Gopal Shetty, President of the Federation of Karnataka Caterers (FKC) said, “Restaurant owners have suffered a lot during the first lockdown. With the second wave looming over our heads, it seems like it will take the industry a long time to recover.” He revealed that more than 10,000 people in the industry have lost jobs and most of them have returned home. Shetty, who is also Managing Director of Swathi Group of Hotels, disclosed that many top chefs have left, which has resulted in a dip in the quality of food.
“Many from the hotel industry are seeking jobs in industrial units and the infrastructure industry. A good cook cannot be a mason, but that is how corona has changed the lives of people,” Shetty lamented. Chethan Hegde, Owner of 1522 Pub and Partner with the 1Q1 Pub said, “Life before the pandemic was wonderful for the hotel industry. Bengaluru was known for its restaurants and pubs and we had good revenue generating from it. Now, people are hesitant to come in.
If night curfew extends beyond April 20, the hotel industry will definitely collapse.” Mukesh Moltani, owner of Toit Brewpub, said, “We all understand the current situation, but the hotel industry didn’t receive any help from the government. We have been struggling every day to raise our revenue and just when things were getting better, the night curfew made things worse.”