KOLKATA: Restaurants in Kolkata resumed their services to a lukewarm response on Monday after a lockdown-imposed two-and-a-half-month closure. While footfall remained comparatively low till evening, the crowd swelled marginally between 6pm and 9pm. With seating capacity reduced to 50% and an early closure (9pm), it was a slow start for city eateries that expected a steady rise in footfall in the course of the week.
Reopening of eateries is one of the most vital signs of a society coming back to life. But, as in all other sectors that involve a degree of human interaction, all precautions and recommendations need to be followed.
The usual lunch crowd was still missing at Park Street. There were no queues despite seats being reduced by 50%. “Being the first day post lockdown and with public transport remaining inadequate, we did not expect a full house. But the crowd did swell in the evening and around half of our tables were taken up. This should steadily go up as the week progresses,” said Nitin Kothari, owner of Mocambo and Peter Cat.
Mughlai chain Oudh had a good beginning with around half the tables taken up at its Salt Lake and Deshapriya Park outlets. The crowd thinned in the evening, though. “We were apprehensive about the turnout but were surprised to find enthusiastic foodies turning out. Our guests appreciated the safety measures we have taken to maintain the hygiene standards. We saw a 25% customer presence on the very first day of the re-opening, which, we feel will should go up gradually once people are more comfortable to dine out,” said owner Shiladitya Chaudhury.
Guests were rare at Song-Hai in central Kolkata, too. “It’s been a disappointing day but this is just the beginning. The situation is still not normal and people remain wary of stepping out. But things will improve soon,” said owner Sudesh Poddar.
Footfall was better at Aminia. “We expect this to pick up in the next few days. Take-away sales, too, were good across all the stores. Table occupancy remained more than 50% in some outlets,” said Kabir Azhar, director of Aminia.
Some popular restaurants like Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta remained shut. But some outlets of these chains may resume in a few days, said Anjan Chatterjee, chairman of Speciality Restaurants. “Our standalone outlets may open in the next two-three days. Our mall outlets will remain shut since there is a lack of clarity on some issues. Timing is an issue at malls that now shut down by 8.30pm. Peak dinner time in summer is between 8.30pm and 11pm,” said Chatterjee.
The restaurant section of Flury’s opened its doors on Park Street on Monday. Most of the favourite items, from tea to snacks and pastries, were available to order. “We had a lot of inquiries over phone about whether we were re-opening on Monday. We saw a happy trail of customers throughout the day,” said an official.