The sealing of rooftop sections of 21 open-air restaurants in Connaught Place has not only disappointed people who wish to have a drink in peace but has also irked the cafe owners who are now incurring severe losses due to the dwindling footfall.
Ever since the sealing, the owners claim to have lost 50% of the business- losing Rs 2 to Rs 4 lakh a day, on an average, weekends being worse.
Speaking to HT, Vikas Kumar, restaurant manager at Warehouse Cafe, said that they have lost a section of customers who came to the cafe with colleagues and friends to dine or have a drink in peace. “The terrace was the selling point of this place. Guests used to spend more time at the restaurant, drinking. Not everyone comes to the cafe to party or to listen to loud music. Most customers prefer sitting upstairs where we have light music playing in the background, overlooking Connaught Place, where they can chat with their colleague and friends. Now, the moment we tell the guests that the terrace is sealed, they go back,” he said.
He added, “Now we can’t even hold private parties because there is not much space. Earlier, the walking crowd used to take the terrace, and we could hold private parties at the lounge. Today, I refused booking for three private parties.”
The rooftop sections of the eateries in the British-era shopping arcade were shut down last week following the collapse of a portion of a building in C-block. The incident had raised concerns over the safety of the structures. Officials had pointed out to the lack of maintenance by shop/cafe owners and excessive load on the old structures in the form of heavy gensets and other inventory.
Most cafes that served hookahs are also feeling the pinch. “We cannot serve hookah in a closed space. Earlier we used to serve it on the terrace and the guests loved it. There is no smoking room inside the cafe, so the guests who wish to smoke have to go downstairs each time, which is very inconvenient. Most guests now leave after a couple of drinks, while earlier they used to stay for long,” Shera, restaurant manager, OMG said.
“There has been a dip of 50% in the business since this shut down was announced,” he said.
Manoj Kumar Das, corporate general manager, My Bar Headquarters, explained that the restaurant takes care of the maintenance and that a mutual decision should have been reached. “The NDMC comes here for regular checks and we also make sure that the place is properly maintained. Since it is a heritage building, we take great care of it and whenever there is some damage, we immediately inform NDMC requesting them for repairs. We all believe that a decision should be reached after taking into consideration our business and needs of the people,” he said.
The restaurant owners now fear that with CP becoming a pedestrian only zone by the end of the month, the business will take a further hit. “Who will come here after parking the car a kilometre away. People who come to party will not want to park their car far away from the venue and then walk at night. The business across CP will be drop,” Kumar said.