Food joints in the city were among the worst hit by the Union government’s demonetisation move. Many have seen sales dropping by almost 90%, while some have found other ways to carry out transactions.
On any given day, there used to be scores of patrons in front of Pandit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan Paranthe Wale, almost mobbing the narrow lane in Chandni Chowk. It all changed after November 8, and, this shop, considered by many as the tastiest option in Parathey Wali Gali, is now almost deserted and has seen a huge dip in sales.
Manish Sharma, the owner of this 144-year-old establishment, explains how difficult it has been in the past fortnight. “Our sales are down by nearly 90%. Tourists have stopped coming, so have the people who used to come to Chandni Chowk to shop and eat here afterwards. There is no money for shopping, therefore, no food. I see more bleak times ahead,” says the 38-year-old.
Another iconic eatery in this lane is Babu Ram Paranthe Wale. Its 67-year-old owner, HK Sharma, said the scrapping of notes has reduced sales by 30%-40%. As a ripple effect, he said, they have stopped buying groceries and other items in large quantities.
These eateries still accept cash, but the owners are trying their best not to turn down customers. “A few days ago, we had tourists from Gujarat and Rajasthan who didn’t have any usable currency notes. We asked them to eat and transfer the money to our bank account,” said Manish.
The twin delights of Purani Dilli — Karim’s and Al Jawahar — are also feeling the heat of demonetisation. Karim’s, undoubtedly, the best among Delhi restaurants serving Mughlai cuisine, has earned an iconic status on the Capital’s culinary map. However, this Delhi icon has also been hit hard. Sales have dipped quite significantly in the Jama Masjid outlet.
“Our sales have gone down to about 60%. We are the only outlet which doesn’t accept cards. After the announcement, we set up a mobile wallet account. However, glitches occurred during the transactions. So, we are back to cash-only payments,” an employee said.
Located next door, Al Jawahar restaurant, is facing a similar crisis. Al Jawahar takes its name from India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who is said to have dropped in at the restaurant for a meal.
“I never felt the need to install card swipe machines as a majority of our customers would prefer cash payment. However, our business was affected after demonetisation. So, I applied for a machine recently. Hopefully, it will be delivered soon,” said Akram Qureshi, of Al Jawahar.
Paratha joints, Qutab Institutional Area
Hundreds visit the tiny stalls dotting the roadsides at Qutab Institutional Area. However, in the past 10 days, the number of visitors has declined due to the cash crunch. When we visited, only a handful of people could be seen enjoying their meals under the warm winter sun. In good old days, all the tables here used to be full and staff would have always been busy. A couple of joints have also been shut.
However, owners are looking for other means to lure back customers. After the demonetisation announcement, the owner of Lakshman dhaba, a favourite of many Delhiites for its mouth-watering keema paratha, applied for a card swipe machine and an online wallet application.
“The mobile wallet has just started working while the card swiping machine is yet to arrive. This gives customers more options to pay for the food,” he said.
Before the big announcement, Moolchand Paranthe, under Moolchand Metro station, would, everyday, feed thousands of hungry Delhiites looking for a quick, tasty and affordable meal.
Then, demonetisation happened. The iconic joint, which started as a roadside cart and is now housed in a permanent space under the station, has started using Paytm. When HT visited this eatery on Tuesday, the usual crowds were missing and barely a few customers were present.
“The sale has reduced to half. But, things have improved since we started taking payment through mobile wallets. However, until things don’t return to normalcy, our businesses will suffer,” a staff member at Moolchand Paranthe said.
Khandani Pakodewala in Sarojini Nagar
On Tuesday afternoon, Khandani Pakodewala in Sarojini Nagar was abuzz. Employees couldn’t take a break from serving people waiting for their turn to get their mouth-watering pakode from this 50-year-old establishment.
“Sales are comparatively less but mobile wallets are helping customers without cash and, of course, traders like us,” the owner said.
Many other eateries, too, have moved to mobile wallet payments, but as the bulk of sales are becoming dependant on these platforms, things are getting more complex. “I started using a mobile wallet app and things started off real smooth. I just had to do go through an easy registration process and I started business. However, there is a daily limit of ₹10,000 per vendor account. To increase it, a detailed registration and KYC has to be done and relevant documents have to be submitted. I am waiting for that to be completed before I can resume transactions through this,” said the owner of a nearby eatery.
Bengali snacks at Chittaranjan Park
Chittaranjan Park is a little corner in the city which reminds most Bengalis living in Delhi-NCR of the sights, sounds and flavours of home. So, apart from visiting the fish markets here, people from near and far come here to get a bite of tasty Bengali delicacies.
Rajeev Basak runs a popular phuchka joint in CR Park Market-I. According to him, for his daily “cash-in-cash-out” business, things have got a little bumpy in the past two weeks. “Priorities have changed with notes becoming dearer. People will rather spend money on necessities than on snacks. However, the situation is improving every day,” says the optimistic 18-year-old.
A few paces away, Arun runs a roll shop and boasts that he gets customers from as far as Gurgaon and Noida to grab a bite of what he terms as Kolkata nostalgia. He, too, has been mostly sitting idle for the past 10 days and is buying groceries in reduced quantity to cope with the financial crisis.