KOLKATA: Owners of fine dining restaurants in the city have urged West Bengal government to extend the closing hour by another hour from 10:30 pm during Durga Puja days in view of the lifting of night curfew during the festive season.
The restaurant owners have taken their appeal to the state chief secretary.
"We have urged the government to extend the closing time, which is now 10.30 pm, by an hour as many pandal hoppers will not be hitting the road in way they did in the pre-COVID years with the Calcutta High Court and administration declaring the pandals as no entry zones," Nitin Kothari, the owner of the famous 'Peter Cat' and 'Mocambo' restaurants in downtown Park Street, told PTI on Saturday.
The night curfew from 11 pm to 5 am, as per COVID restriction, has been withdrawn by the government in view of Durga Puja which begins on October 11.
He said while the restaurants have been witnessing good response by patrons in the past few months, any extension of dining out hours will help them to get a little more space and enjoy the festivities in a more relaxed manner.
Kothari said his two iconic restaurants have witnessed full occupancy on a regular basis for the past several months.
"Even in June when the restaurant closing deadline was 8 pm, people were adjusting dining hours from usual 7 pm-9 pm to 5 pm-8 pm. When the government relaxed the timing from 8 pm to 10:30 pm, it helped both diners and and us. If the closing time can be extended by another hour from October 10 or 11 to October 16, nothing can be better," he said.
The owner of 'Oudh 1590' and 'Chowman' restaurant chains Shiladitya Chowdhury told PTI, "We have requested the government if the deadline can be extended by some more time. We are yet to get any positive response."
However, if the 10:30 pm deadline continues, his restaurant outlets will continue parcel food delivery till 2 am, Chowdhury added.
The president of Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India, Sudesh Poddar said "With a section of people looking for an alternative to pandal hopping, especially in the late evening hours, we anticipate there will be crowds at popular eating zones. This we are speaking from experience."