When India battled England in Sunday’s World Cup match, there were only a few who wouldn’t have cared whether they won or lost. Since the World Cup began, bars and restaurants in the city have worn a deserted look, which is likely to get worse if the country progresses in the tournament.
Rajesh Sharma of Elbo Room, Bandra offers a simple reason for the dwindling footfall. “Cricket matches last for over seven hours. You can’t expect people to sit at a bar or restaurant for that long,” he says, contrasting it to the scene during last year’s FIFA World Cup. “A football match lasts for only 90 minutes and is fast-paced. There were definitely more people watching matches in bars then.”
Stephen D’Souza, manager at Colaba’s HQ and Café Royal, says, “I was recently commenting to a colleague that I couldn’t see the crowds. With technology like LCD and hi-definition TVs available, people prefer to watch the game in the comfort of their homes.”
Meanwhile, Kishore DF, proprietor of WTF, Andheri, feels restaurants are losing out more than bars. He opines, “Restaurants don’t have the atmosphere conducive to a game. They’ll be the ones suffering during this World Cup.” Confirming this, manager Manoj Singh of Papa John’s Pizzeria, Powai, admits the otherwise crowded restaurant has plenty of empty seats to offer. “When India plays, you’ll find the place totally empty,” he says, adding, “But take-away orders increase.”
Take-aways are what’s keeping Moskha restaurant in Chembur in good health, admits manager Ravi Bhagwania. “We’ve seen a 10 per cent drop in footfall since the beginning of the World Cup. But luckily, we make home deliveries, which are doing well.”
As for live gigs like music events and plays, Tina Kapur of popular performance space Blue Frog in Lower Parel, says that it’s too early to gauge whether they are losing their audience to cricket. “The tournament has just begun, you can’t expect to see the crowds here at this stage. It will take some to judge whether it’s hampered business or not.”