MANGALURU: Thousands of employees of Mumbai’s famous Udupi hotels, who have returned to their hometowns in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts, are looking at an uncertain future. With no surety of when restaurants in Mumbai will be fully functional, the hotel employees are worried for their livelihood and future of their school and college going children.
About 15,000 people have returned to Udupi and DK districts from Maharashtra and a significant number of them were employed in Udupi hotels, which is a household name in Mumbai. After the lockdown was relaxed a few days ago, some restaurants have reopened only for take-away services and are functioning with limited staff.
Given the way the Covid-19 crisis is panning out in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, many have decided not to return and instead find a job in their hometowns in Karnataka or somewhere else within the state. People whose children are studying in Mumbai are in a fix. Vikas Salian from Kundapur, who have two sons studying in a Mumbai school, said due he has not been able to decide on whether to return to Mumbai or stay back in Kundapur in the context of his kids’ education.
The trend of people from DK and Udupi migrating to Mumbai to set up Udupi hotels and work in it as cooks and waiters started during late 1940s. The steaming idlis, soft vadas, dosa and uthappam of Udup have not only become a hit among Mumbaikars but it also gave the local eateries a run for their money.
Chandrashekar Poojary who migrated to Mumbai 15 years ago to set up Sri Krishna Hotel serving Udupi cuisine, said there are over 10,000 Udupi hotels in Mumbai out of which about 40 per cent of them are run by natives of Mangaluru.
“Pizza and burger joints have dealt a severe blow to Udupi hotels since more than a decade, forcing many to venture into other businesses. Now, the lockdown has further affected its existence.” He said about 10-15 per cent of hotel employees are from Karnataka, mostly from the coastal region.