The restaurants in Delhi’s Connaught Place, especially those with terrace seating, have always enjoyed a full house on Valentine’s Day, thanks to their perfect setting for that cosy lunch in the winter sun or a romantic dinner amid twinkling stars. This year, however, restaurateurs have a sad story to share. Business is low ever since the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) shut down rooftop sections of 21 open-air restaurants, after concerns were raised about the safety of buildings. Last week, the roof above the iconic Jain Bookstore in Connaught Place collapsed, leading to the shutdown.
While restaurant owners were already losing out on customers who’d otherwise visit for a warm lunch or snacks in the winter sun, they say it’s a big blow around Valentine’s Day. “This is the best time when customers would like to sit outside and celebrate Valentine’s Day in the pleasant weather. But because of the ban by NDMC, we can’t open our terrace doors. This has lead to the loss of 30-35% in the business this year,” says Surjit Singh, owner of a restaurant in CP. “Banning rooftops is not a solution. We are a very positive sector and the government should support us. We also pay taxes and contribute to employment,” adds Singh.
Restaurateur Akshay Anand agrees. “CP is known for its rooftop views and the ban has affected almost all restaurants in the area. V-Day week is the time when we get the maximum crowd but due to the ban, there is an estimate loss of about more than 35%.”
As a result, some have come up with special offers and attractions to woo customers, but say all efforts are getting wasted. Priyank Sukhija, owner of several restaurants in CP, says, “Nothing is working out well this year, even after special offers, we have failed to pursue customers. NDMC has played spoilsport this V-Day.” He adds, “CP used to be the nightlife Capital because of its central location and amazing ambience. And, like others, I have also faced a loss of 30%.”
CP regulars are now exploring other options in the city. Anubhuti Sharma, a resident of Patel Nagar, says, “We have been visiting CP for the last seven years, and on every Valentine’s Day, as the rooftop views there are amazing. Now, one might as well go to Hauz Khas Village or someplace else for a nice romantic meal outdoors.”