Entrepreneurs in Mumbai’s hospitality industry are relieved roughly a week after former police commissioner, Arup Patnaik, was promoted. The transfer of the top cop, who reportedly supported ACP Social Service Branch Vasant Dhoble’s crackdown on the city’s nightlife, seems to have had almost an immediate impact on business.
“The first weekend after his transfer, we noticed an increase in our sales. We hadn’t hit that number ever since the raids had begun, although before that, we used to do business like this on a regular basis,” says Ankur Vaid, partner, Party Hard Drivers. “In the last few months, clients have called for drivers at around 12 am, because that’s when most places used to shut. But now we’ve been getting calls for later than that.”
Last Saturday, pubs like Café Zoe in Lower Parel had to restrain entry after a point as they soon became too packed, a rule (overcrowding) that most eateries and bars are now wary of. Social networking sites and Facebook pages made in support of nightlife, too, were abuzz with comments. “DJ bookings at Blue Frog have gone through the roof in September, so no fear,” says Carl Whitfield, a city-based user on one such page. Businessman and campaigner Dhawal Oza who also began a drive against ‘moral policing’ roughly three months ago, says, “The number of police check points has also reduced, so has the mental trauma of being caught in a raid.”
According to restaurateurs, random checks by the police have also reduced in the last two weeks. Juhu’s nightlife hotspot Aurus, one of the first to have downed its shutters in May this year, will soon reopen. However, the relaunch, scheduled for this weekend, has been pushed to September 14.