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24×7 operations still a distant dream: Restaurants


Delhi: Restaurants and pubs in Delhi have been trying to get deadlines extended for years, but much government sympathy and many promises later, little has changed. However, Riyaaz Amlani, president, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), says that after the extension of restaurant timings in Bengaluru, they’re pitching hard for the extension of their deadline from 1am to 2.30am, only on the weekends and only on a trial basis for now.

Says Amlani, “The issue of time extension was brought to the LG and he has told us to forget about it. However, we will continue pursuing this issue. We have had success in Bengaluru (after a similar experiment) and we are hopeful that Maharashtra will allow this very soon too. If there is a precedent, it helps. We are not pitching for 24×7 operations – it might not even make financial sense for us because business does drop. But on the weekends – Fridays and Saturdays – if we are allowed to operate till 3 am – just a one-and-a-half hour extension on a trial basis for three months – that would be very helpful. Our suggestion to the government is let’s try this and see if there is any increase in the crime rate or in drunken driving. The NRAI has also given them a 12-point action plan on how we, the restaurants, will participate in reducing instances of drunken driving. We have said we will use breath analysers – you give us the power to not give a drunk customer the keys to her/his car. We are willing to tie up with various services; we are currently not empowered to do so.”


Riyaaz Amlani, President NRAI

He narrates their Bengaluru experience, saying, “In Bengaluru, the deadline for restaurants was 11.30pm. A year ago, they changed it to 1am for three months at first, and then for another three months. After a trial period of six months, the authorities said there’d been no increase in any untoward incidents, crime or drunken driving, collections were up by 8-9%, and they’d met their excise collection targets two months ahead of schedule, so the weekend extension was made permanent there. Recently, they have announced they’ll do it throughout the week as well.”
He also says that the NRAI has had a meeting with the Delhi police commissioner regarding the “harassment” they face from the force. “We have been speaking separately to the police – a few weeks ago, a delegation from the NRAI had met the LG as well. We have written several letters to the commissioner as well as the LG, stating that there has been excessive harassment by the police. There have been instances when they have shut restaurants way before time and taken away music systems illegally. The LG heard us out and has given us verbal assurance that it will stop.”
Source: TOI

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