After poring over the menu at Mainland China for 15 minutes, Kiara Khanna ordered dimsums. “Because they were cheaper,” says the 29-year-old.
Even while she skimped, Khanna demonstrated rare courage for these hard, recessionary times. Unlike her colleagues, who have practically stopped eating out, the advertising executive and her friends, “try to catch the happy hours” and “go easy on ordering the food.”
Realtor Ankur Malhotra (31) “used to spend over Rs 2,000” every time he would eat out. Now, worried about not saving enough for the future, he eats out twice a week instead of everyday.
But as the average salaried Joe wisely embraces thrift, the food and beverage (F&B) industry is certainly feeling the heat of the meltdown. Sohrab Sitaram, owner of lounge bar Tabula Rasa, feels the F&B industry is the hardest hit. “We would get the highest billing from corporate groups, since their companies picked up the tab. But with budget cuts, corporate billings are down 25 per cent,” says Sitaram.
Sunil Tickoo, General Manager of Q’ba and @live, complains, “In the past month, we’ve had 20 per cent fewer bookings.”
But Park Hotel’s Assistant General Manager Rifaquat Mirza seems resigned to the situation: “Nobody wants to splurge or celebrate ostentatiously. We know that this Diwali will not be the same as last time.”
Tapan Sinha, Chief Operating Officer of Republic of Chicken, says his chain of restaurants has seen a 40 per cent drop in business over the last 10 days. But he blames the loss on the blasts rather than the state of the economy. “We’re located in malls and markets. If people aren’t willing to step out because of bomb threats, there’s very little we can do,” he says.
However, upmarket places like Smoke House Grill, Manre and Diva are doing relatively well because of a steady stream of expatriates.
AD Singh of Olive Bar and Kitchen explains: “Expats make up 50 per cent of our regular clientele. With the dollar becoming stronger, they find it easier to spend in rupees.”