While restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen two months ago in Delhi, things still haven't been very rosy for the F&B industry. With 50 per cent seating restrictions in place, the road to recovery for restaurants and bars seems an uphill one.
It remains to be seen how many will tumble off. However, there is a ray of hope - wining and dining establishments have now been allowed to continue operations till 1am (from yesterday).
While Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had announced the decision on Saturday, the DDMA (Delhi Disaster Management Authority) has since also issued a notice reminding businesses that the restrictions can be re-imposed at any instance of rule-breaking.
But as the first night took off, business owners were both happy and nervous. Unplugged Courtyard Founder Dinesh Arora says that the last couple of months weren't pleasant as they were not able to tap the market to their full potential, though they had all the expenses to take care of.
"This was not reflecting well on our balance sheets, but there was no option. With increased timings we are now hopeful that we will be able to revive our night business, which will increase our sales by 25 per cent. We urge our patrons to keep following safety norms so that we don’t come under the radar of another lockdown," he says.
Restaurateurs, like Kanishk Tuteja of WeQutub also reckon a rise of 30 per cent in business. Arora, and others who operate popular nightspots say they’re going to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to Covid norms, and will do all they can to follow those.
Notes Zorawar Kalra, Director of Massive Restaurants: "This will ensure that the patrons can now enjoy a meal at their leisure, restaurants will be better able to enforce social distancing, the government will benefit as a result of added tax generation and employees of the hospitality sector will benefit as shifts will be restored leading to pre-COVID levels of employment. Neighbouring states already have this so this move is extremely progressive and proactive in nature."
Indeed, Gurugram, which had allowed restaurants and bars to resume their normal timings a couple of weeks ago, has been seeing a steady uptick in its nightlife since then. Jasmeet Banga, Founder, Pirates of Grill, says, "With the timings being extended, we started noticing an increase in revenue which was directly related to the dinner business. The business was better last week with an extended timeline and we are happy with the same things getting amplified in Delhi as well, as this gives us breathing room to generate more revenue."
"While I'm happy that restaurants will be going to remain open later, I’m going to ease into it. It'll be amazing especially to go out to some of my favourite clubs late again after so much time, but I don’t want to be too hasty, despite being vaccinated," shares Raghav Narang, a builder and developer from Safdarjung.
Umang Tewari, Founder of Local and Junkyard Café, concludes, "We were bleeding with no dinner show. The cafe experience is enjoyed best with evening vibes and nobody comes in at 7 pm considering the place will get closed at 10 pm. This was certainly killing our business post 5 pm, but now with our usual timings - and we are so sure that our customers will bounce back - our revenues will bounce back, and we will be able to meet our overheads. The extended timeline is surely a relief to the dying industry, but stabilisation will take some more months as we are still operating at 50 per cent only."