9pm deadline, ban on serving liquor eating into sales of Ludhiana restaurants
Restaurateurs say footfall reduced to less than 20% as timings are not conducive for dinner serviceUpdated: Jul 03, 2020 23:02 IST
Ten days after the state government allowed restaurants to resume dine-in services, while most in Ludhiana continue to keep their doors closed due to low footfall, those open say the response is far from satisfactory.
Though the district administration recently extended the business hours to 9pm, restaurateurs say the timings are still not conducive for the dinner service, when most customers normally turn up, while others stay away during the day due to the searing heat.
As per the standard operating procedure (SOP) to contain the spread of Covid-19, the Punjab department of home affairs had allowed dine-in facility at restaurants with only 50% occupancy or 50 guests, whichever is less, from June 24, provided they comply with social distancing and other guidelines prescribed by the Union health ministry. Earlier, restaurants could only offer takeaway or home delivery.
But, business owners say they are not even getting 20% of the normal footfall.
Vishal Malhotra, proprietor of Bistro Flamme Bois, Pakhowal Road, said, “Low response is majorly due to unsuitable timings. Majority of our patrons are businessmen and industrialists. If they close their shops or factories at 8pm, how can they arrive at restaurants with family before 9pm?”
Owner of Basant Restaurants, Bhupinder Basant said, “We have opened only the unit at Feroze Gandhi market in anticipation of poor response. We are also dealing with shortage of workers. Residents are still cautious of fear of infection, and are therefore, still preferring home delivery or takeaway.”
Government’s prohibition on opening bars is also putting a dent in restaurants’ business. “Confusion still prevails in the market on whether liquor can be served or not, due to which we have not resumed the service,” said Sachin Goyal, owner of Penthouse on Ferozepur Road.
Deputy excise and taxation commissioner Pawan Garg said, “Liquor can be served at restaurants situated in hotels, but not at individual restaurants.
President of the Ludhiana Hotel and Restaurants Association, Amarvir Singh said, “Most of the lounges in the city are closed as bars are not allowed to open. Many restaurant owners have followed suit to avoid losses, while others have limited their services to home delivery.”
A new dining experience
Visiting restaurants with the safety protocols in place is proving to be a new experience for dine-in customers.
“Though the usual hustle bustle is missing, the peaceful ambience is welcome. It’s refreshing to step out with family for a culinary experience after months of home isolation. But, one should take precautions,” said Sandeep Singh, a customer at The Table by Basant in Feroze Gandhi market.