The latest unlock guidelines come as a relief to the restaurant industry in Delhi, which has been struggling to kick-start business since reopening last week. According to the order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, starting Monday, bars have been allowed to open and restaurants can serve alcohol. Both bars and restaurants have to operate at 50% capacity.
“Bars are allowed up to 50% seating capacity from noon to 10 pm. Owners of restaurants and bars shall be responsible for strict adherence to the prescribed SOPs and guidelines issued by the Government of India/Delhi government,” read the order. Restaurants can also stay open from 8 am to 10 pm – they were closing at 8 pm under last week’s guidelines.
Most restaurant owners and managers said they witnessed a lot of demand since reopening the past week but due to restricted timings and no sale of liquor, business had moved at snail’s pace. They expect the situation to improve in the coming days.
Riyaaz Amlani, CEO and MD of Impresario Handmade Restaurants, which runs brands like SOCIAL and Smoke House Deli, said restaurants have been through difficult times and extension in timing is a welcome decision.
He said, “This is safer than functioning for a few specific hours as it means that customers will be spread out throughout the day.” As far as alcohol is concerned, he said, “There is no reason why customers should not be able to enjoy a glass of wine with their pasta or a beer with their burger. We support the government’s decision and hope to get back to normalcy soon.”
Those who were dependent on alcohol for majority of their business had been seeing less than 10 per cent of their usual footfall. Rupesh Kumar, Manager of Gastronomica in Greater Kailash I, said, “In the last few days, many people have been visiting us to inquire whether we were serving alcohol. When we said no, they decided to go home with liquor from local shops instead of eating at the restaurant.” However, he remained hopeful and said, “Now we expect business to pick up. People have been visiting the GK market and it should not take as long as last year to bounce back.”
Meanwhile, Ashok Thakur, manager of Zen Restaurant in Connaught Place who was apprehensive about reopening last week, also expressed hope of business picking up: “We have been seeing around 30-40 customers in a day, which. Because we had to shut by 8 pm, we could not serve dinner. With longer hours and alcohol, we expect more customers in the coming days.”
Suman Bhandari, Supervisor, Pebble Street, a restro-bar in New Friends Colony said, “We will continue to maintain social distancing and seat only 50 per cent of the usual. In the last week, we have had 20 per cent of the usual footfall… things should get better from here on.”
Zorawar Kalra, Founder and Director of Massive Restaurants, which includes brands like Farzi Cafe and Pa Pa Ya, said, “This is a very positive move for an already beleaguered industry and is in sync with what other states are allowing. This will now ensure that more and more restaurants open up as with these relaxations the viability of opening a restaurant no longer remains a question mark. This also helps in added revenue for the Exchequer and the industry. More importantly, it will positively affect employment in the sector. Now all patrons and restaurants need to ensure responsible consumption and service in order to ensure there is no spike in cases.”