Footfall at stand-alone restaurants and bars set to increase as Covid curbs are lifted | Chennai News

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Chennai: Freestanding restaurants and bars in the city and its suburbs, which lost around 35% of footfall when the nightly curfew and Sunday lockdown were in effect, are expected to see business improve as the restrictions have been lifted. Pubs that woo customers with ‘happy hour’ deals, offering free alcoholic drinks during the day, have pulled them as more customers are expected to turn up.
The restrictions of the past fortnight were the third blow to the hospitality sector which had suffered the permanent closure of around 1,500 restaurants of varying capacities due to poor clientele, maintenance and rent since March 2020.
At night, while most restaurants register around 40% of their total activity, only a fraction have entered for dinner in the last fortnight. Empty seats in restaurants did not translate to online orders which continued to be around 20%, according to the restaurant association. Self-contained restaurants, pubs and bars were only allowed 50% of their full seating capacity under standard operating procedure (SOP).
R Rajkumar, a restaurant owner in Kolathur, said the seats were vacant when there should have been an increase in attendance after 7 p.m. The menu has also been reduced due to poor clientele. “Sales have dropped significantly,” said Rajkumar, who closed two branches in Parry’s and Perambur after Covid-19.
Around 8,500 eateries and eateries were operating within a 30 km radius in Chennai, while the city center has 174 bars, pubs, resto-bars and bars attached to hotels. Mr Ravi, chairman of the Chennai Hotels Association, said between 40% and 45% of guests have not shown up since new curbs came into effect this month. “We have reduced our purchases of vegetables and other ingredients by 30%,” he added.
Arasu Dennis, director of AD Associates, a bar and restaurant consultant in Chennai, said business and footfall took a heavy toll of 30% to 50%. “In a bid to woo customers, stand-alone pubs and bars had started offering ‘buy one, get one free’ and ‘buy two and get one free’ on alcoholic beverages and drinks. Saturday brunches for the past three weeks. We pulled happy hour deals as people started visiting the facilities again,” he said.
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