Most expect a full house on Friday when Dol and Holi are celebrated with the festive spirit lingering on Saturday, without the Covid shadow looming for the first time in two years. Night restrictions have been relaxed on Friday which will allow diners to enjoy a late and relaxed meal, said restaurant owners.
“Footfalls have been rising gradually and now most have 100% occupancy on weekends. With summer approaching, attendance will improve further. It has helped that Holi happens to be a Saturday so this is set to be the first big celebration after Covid. This is also the first time since 2020 that the pandemic fear has virtually gone and people would make the most of it,” said Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) president Sudesh Poddar who owns Songhai, Manthan and MS Bar.
Mughlai chain Oudh 1590 expects footfalls to be higher than that seen during the last pujas when night restrictions had been lifted. “The fear is gone and normalcy has returned in almost every sphere. We have been getting a normal crowd over the last few weeks and this Holi weekend would be big for people haven’t celebrated for a while. So, we have launched an Anglo-Indian food festival at our retro-dining outlet Chapter 2,” said Oudh and Chapter 2 co-founder Shiladitya Chaudhury.
Some Park Street restaurants are planning to stay open for lunch on Friday. “Usually, people stay at home on Holi but this time we expect a decent turnout throughout the day,” said Pratap Daryanani, owner of Oasis on Park Street.
Mocambo and Peter Cat owner Nitin Kothari expects a decent turnout. “This is indeed the first big occasion post-Covid and people are naturally restless to go out and have a good time. The footfalls would be usually good on Holi before Covid but it varies from year to year. Often, mornings are less crowded and evenings are better. But this time, since night curbs have been lifted for two days, we expect a larger attendance than the last two years,” said Kothari.
Poddar agreed, pointing out that the withdrawal of the early closing time could bring in more people. “Kolkatans prefer a late dinner so an early closure keeps diners away,” said Poddar.
It could be more crowded in the evening on Friday as the city celebrates Holi till late afternoon, said Kabir Azhar, owner of the Aminia chain.
Amber in central Kolkata plans to open late on Friday but expects a ‘good crowd’. “Footfalls have been steadily rising over the last two weeks, though it’s not yet reached the pre-pandemic level. But this weekend promises to be a big one,” said owner Sanjay Khullar.