Customers say cheers as Chandigarh bars open, but you can’t dance as yet
There’s been an enthusiastic response to Chandigarh administration’s nod to reopening of bars from September 1, with most places packed to the 50% limit allowed for social distancing. However, those expecting to shake a leg and let down their hair will have to wait – as safe distances have to be maintained.
Happy about the “decent response,” from patrons, Manish Goel, director of Social in Sector 7, which started services from Tuesday evening, says people have been observing safety rules. “Things are going better than we had expected. The public understands all the rules and is being very responsible about it.”
Goel, who also runs Swagath restaurant in Sector 26 and Elante, where alcoholic beverages are also served, says, “At Swagath we get people who might have a beer with their meals as alcohol isn’t the main attraction for them, but from Tuesday the crowds at lunch are getting bigger.”
Sunveer Sondhi, proprietor of Pyramid Bar in Elante and the head of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI’s), Chandigarh chapter, is also happy with the response. “We managed to open even on Tuesday, usually a slow day, yet the place was almost packed to the 50% limit. Our regulars are calling us and starting to reserve places as well.”
For minimum human contact, Sondhi adds that his bar has gone all digital from menus to payments. Staff, however, has been instructed to stop playing music to maintain social distancing should the customers get carried away and start dancing.
Local resident Shrey Budhiraja, enjoying an evening out at a bar, says, “People were beginning to feel cooped up inside their homes. They will be happy to go out and have a good time.”
Licence issues being sorted out
Some bars, however, have delayed opening as owners scramble to get liquor licencing issues sorted out. Sandeep Sahni, Chandigarh Club president, confirms that their bar will open over the weekend while Ramandeep Marwah, general manager, JW Marriott, adds that all safety protocols will be in place when they open on Friday.
Some microbreweries, however, expect delays. Debdip Chaterjee, manager of Great Bear microbrewery in Sector 26, says most of their staff members are from Odisha and have gone back to their home states. “It will be a challenge getting them back, but some local brewmakers will start brewing the next batch of beer soon.”
Picture clearer over the weekend
A number of bar owners, however, are not sure whether they will be able to drum up good business after opening up. Ankit Gupta, president of the Chandigarh Hospitality Association, says some owners face delays in getting liquor licences. “Those who do not have liquor in their inventory are also facing problems. The picture of the percentage of bars already open will become clearer over the weekend , he adds.
Gupta’s own Himani’s Vertigo Lounge in Sector 35 will start alcoholic beverage services from Thursday.
Manmohan Kohli, chairman of the Chandigarh Restaurants and Hotels Association, who is also the proprietor of Hotel Aroma in Sector 22, adds: “Many bar owners remain sceptical wondering if they will be able to net business after opening. A large chunk of people including professionals and tourists are still missing in the city, and they were some of our biggest clientele. So many owners are adopting a cautious approach before starting operations.”