Christmas, New Year biz for restaurants in the shadow of the virus

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Several restaurant owners have said they expect crowds to drop for these occasions, even as various state governments enforce a 50% capacity rule in restaurants. Some enterprising restaurants, however, offer take-out party boxes with set menus to compensate for the loss of income.

Until last week, restaurants said they were inundated with New Years Eve reservation calls. However, with the arrival of new covid restrictions, most people are now looking to avoid crowded places and also refrain from going out.

Yum Yum Tree restaurant, which operates chains in Delhi such as Yum Yum Cha and Tbsp, will cooperate with the authorities although the rules will negatively affect income at all levels, said managing director Varun Tuli. “In our 10+ year existence in the food industry, we have noticed more and more people stepping out for New Years celebrations except last year due to the pandemic. While we expect a good turnout this year, the new variant definitely leaves things hanging, ”he said.

Managing restaurants has become a huge challenge with new restrictions implemented every few months and the lack of clarity and support, said Rakshay Dhariwal, founder of Pass Code Hospitality, which operates restaurants in Delhi, Mumbai, Goa. and Kolkata.

“It will definitely affect our income, especially during the holiday season when everyone wants to go out and when businesses are generating very good income,” he said.

“As the number of seats in restaurants is limited to 50%, the larger tables, which were mainly reserved for young people and couples, have now disappeared. As a result, the reduction in income is over 50%, ”said Ajit Shah, partner of White Panda Hospitality, which owns three restaurants in Delhi, including Kiko Ba and Tera Vita. To compensate for this loss of income, the company plans to offer take-out boxes with special meals for these occasions.

Bars and pubs have been hit hardest. The government of Karnataka has banned DJs and special events in clubs and pubs. Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity on New Years Eve. Geist, the Bangalore-based brewery, which opened for dining there last year, has no plans for an event. for New Years Eve in his beer garden or taproom anticipating such a situation. Instead, it will only have a special menu for the season and it will be business as usual.

In Mumbai, party organizers must seek clear permission from authorities, and the gathering must be limited to 200 people.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has banned Christmas and New Year gatherings. The move is a setback for the capital’s hotel industry, said Akshay Anand, co-founder of Ophelia restaurant and bar. The resto-bar will operate at 50% of its capacity and will switch to pre-reservations rather than entertaining receptions as in previous years. Anand said they are staying away from elaborate events.

“Everyone expected good business this year because last year we couldn’t do much. However, we have to be careful because of Omicron. Both Christmas and New Years days are important to the restaurant and hospitality industry. It was a little disappointing because it was all coming back, ”he said.

However, Rahul Singh, founder of The Beer Café, said there was really no change. “Enforcement will be stricter now, as there has been some relaxation in the previous months. A new provision limiting Christmas and New Years events has been put in place, ”he said.

This is clearly a setback for the industry during its recovery, he said. “Brands like ours have reached 120% of pre-covid numbers and are on the verge of renewal as an industry. However, this is an imminent threat. We have already been beaten by two waves; and a third wave was unexpected. But it is a global threat and we must all put health and safety first. The well-being of the economy depends on our well-being, ”he said.

Siddhartha Chaturvedi, secretary general of the Event and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA), said it was disheartening to see these selective rules banning live events or DJ parties to target the urban elite while several other markets that see large crowds are allowed. “Much of our business involving international travel and artists is out of the question. But it is also disappointing to see domestic business operations disrupted, ”said Chaturvedi, who estimates losses from cancellations in Delhi and Karnataka alone would amount to a few crores.

Suneera Tandon & Lata Jha contributed to this story

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