Eateries may opt out of 24x7 as liquor restriction limits business
A month after allowing establishments in gated, commercial complexes in non-residential areas to operate round-the-clock, the initiative is losing momentum. Proprietors of eateries and shopping outlets said the response to being open all night has been unsatisfactory and some are considering returning to regular working hours. Meanwhile, the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (IHRA) has expressed disappointment that constraints remain on sale timings of liquor.
On January 16, tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, with civic chief Praveen Pardeshi and city police commissioner Sanjay Barve, had announced the “Mumbai 24x7” policy which allowed shopping malls, eateries, commercial complexes and other gated communities to operate through the night. HT was the first to report that Mumbai Police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) would permit such establishments to stay open all night from January 26.
While some continue to hold out hope that the initiative will be profitable, most proprietors are disappointed with the response to Mumbai 24x7.
A representative from a prominent mall in south Mumbai said on condition of anonymity, “The response has been not up to our expectations. We are functioning extended hours without any profit. Running operations with this type of response is difficult.” Shivanand Shetty, president of IHRA, said, “The reason people would want to visit eateries [late] at night is if you offer entertainment, which involves alcohol too. Relaxing the liquor sale timings would make a difference to the plan.” The deadline for serving liquor in permit rooms and beer bars is 1.30am.
Several establishments located in malls in suburban neighbourhoods have decided to discontinue the extended hours, stating the scheme is not profitable. One mall in Ghatkopar has already returned to regular hours. “Unless there is an event at the mall or a festival, there is no point keeping shops open for extended hours,” said its representative on condition of anonymity.
Kunal Vardhan, who owns Atria Mall, said, “We are continuing on Fridays and Saturdays for the time being. The response has been positive. We are expecting a better response in the future and this will take time to take off properly.”
A senior civic official said, “It completely depends on the establishments if they wish to continue running 24x7. Owners of the mall will have to figure out which days according to the response they get.”
Despite repeated attempts at contacting them, Phoenix Marketcity in Kurla, R City at Ghatkopar, Growel’s 101 in Kandivli and Oberoi Mall in Goregaon did not comment on the response to Mumbai 24x7.