The one-day strike by hotels and restaurants on Monday was a big bother for Mumbaiites whose offices were located in areas that had limited chain restaurants and food courts.
While all standalone Udipi restaurants and hotels stayed shut, chain restaurants such as Copper Chimney, McDonald’s, Subway, Dominos and cafes such as Starbucks and CCDs, as well as food courts remained open. “We were not aware of the strike because we were not informed by our companies,” said the manager of one such food joint.
In Mumbai, around 25,000 eateries stayed shut.
Chandrashekhar Kyatham, 30, who works at Elphinstone Road, said: “I went down with friends for lunch as we don’t carry food from home, and that’s when we realised that all restaurants were shut. We had to make do with vada pav and jhunka bhakar.”
“After eating roadside food for lunch, I went out with my friend in the evening to discover that even the cafes were closed,” said Junisha Dama, 20, who works at Nariman Point.
The Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association, the leading hotel industry body, had called for a strike to protest the imposition of 12.63% service tax on all air-conditioned eateries by the central government. Until now, the Centre had levied service tax only on those places that served liquor and were fully or partly air-conditioned.
Romi Chadha, owner of Cosmic Group of hotels, said this is a classic example of double taxation. “We are already paying value added tax and a host of civic taxes. Now, even the central government wants to have a share in the pie,” Chadha said.
Owners of restaurants that don’t serve liquor were the most upset. “Now, even those sitting in the non-AC section of our restaurant will have to pay service tax,” said a restaurant owner from south Mumbai, requesting anonymity. “We will be forced to remove the ACs as we can’t afford this tax.”