BENGALURU: After being shut for dine-in for almost two months, restaurants opened their doors to customers on Monday. Although people were only trickling in during lunch hours, restaurateurs were in fact surprised to find a larger number than expected. Hakuna Matata, a resto bar in JP Nagar, saw over 15 guests dining-in half past noon. In another South Bengaluru restaurant, Patios in Jayanagar had over 18 guests for lunch. Nirav Rajani, founder of Patios, believes that after being cooped in for months, people are desperate to spend time outdoors.
“Eighteen guests was a decent start on day one. People have been staying indoors for about two months and are now looking for outdoor activities,” he says, adding that not all their employees have returned to work since many of them are still in their hometowns. Diner Druva N, a student, who had stepped out for lunch with his friend after several months, concurred about requiring a fresh experience.
“We are stressed sitting at home and eating the same food. We were missing this experience. So today my friend and I decided to venture out after a long time,” he says. Vietnamese style restaurant, Hanoi, in Indiranagar owned by Rajani’s wife Diep Vu, did not open their dine-in facility on Monday owing to lack of stocks. “Most of our ingredients like premixed ground coffee, rice paper, rice noodles are imported from Vietnam. The vendors are not able to supply on time due to travel restrictions. We will be removing some of the exotic items from the menu.
This is to ensure no wastage, and I feel people are not ready to spend large amount on meals at this point,” says Vu, who has also decided to slash the rates of the dishes by 20 per cent. Agrees Arun Muragesan, GM of Hakuna Matata, a resto bar, which has also crossed-off items from their menu owing to similar reasons. “We have removed items like Anjal fish, Tawa pomfret which are slow moving, and also fall under the expensive category,” he says, adding that only vaccinated employees are allowed to report to work. “Only half the staff works every alternate day,” he says.
Although online deliveries have spiked, establishments feel their balance sheets are in a sorry state and will take at least six months to recover. Kuncheria Marattukalan, co-founder, Uru Brewpark, says, “The night curfew and prohibitory orders on selling liquor is very detrimental to the industry. Usually on a Monday just before the lockdown we had at least 500 guests. Today we just had 40. The next few months are going to be hard for us. It will take time to recover.”