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Cash crunch eats into restaurants’ profits


NEW DELHI: Demonetisation has impacted the eating habits of the people. And business at many well-known or lesser known eateries has been hit. But how bad is it?

Anil Sharma, the owner of Pt Gaya Prasad Shi Charan at Paranthe Wali Gali, said he gave his account number to customers to pay him for food when the drive began. A month and a half later, he hasn’t received any money in his account and his business has fallen by half.

Moolchand Parantha Shop, once a bustling joint, has lost 50% of its customers. “We have lost out on most of our loyal customers who were college students, Metro commuters and people staying at the surrounding PG accommodations,” said Deepak, who works at the eatery.

“Either we don’t have change or people don’t have cash. We accept e-wallet payments but people hardly opt for it,” said Mahendar Singh, the manager of the outlet.

Those customers who still come here have become unusually thrifty. “We often pool money to eat here and share a single plate. We are college students; we don’t have the time to stand in ATM queues,” said Mallika Saini, who stays at a PG accommodation near the eatery.

Digital transactions are tough, say eatery managers in Dilli Haat, as they can only transfer Rs 25,000 per month to their bank accounts and that too if they have a premium account. “We reach the upper limit within a week. It’s a nuisance as our money gets blocked in the process,” said Anurag Singh Rana, who owns Zayaka.

However, on Monday, this limit was expanded to Rs 50,000.

Most vendors also complained about insufficient change. “It’s difficult to return change when a customer pays Rs 2,000 for a dish worth Rs 90,” said Kumar Lama, the owner of Momo Mia.

But there are some customers who don’t mind paying in cash. Anita Rao has come with her family from Hyderabad. “We have to put money back into circulation too. I am ready to cut expenses and save cash for little indulgences like paranthas here,” she said.

Rishu Choudhry, a young engineer, said his expenses are down by almost 50%. “I spend around Rs 5,000 less to avoid paying in cash. This is food. If I don’t spend here, I won’t survive,” he said.

Natraj Cafe in Chandni Chowk, famous for its dahi bhalla, is only accepting cash. “My stall is right outside the Metro station. There are at least 10 people trying to make payments at the same time. Card payments delay transactions. Who has the time and patience for that?” said C K Sharma, the owner.

A potential customer agreed. “This place is so crowded, I would not risk taking out my card; I would rather pay in cash,” said Ghanshyam Das, a businessman.

The legendary Kake-Da-Hotel in Connaught Place has been accepting only cash payments. The owner, Captain Arun Chopra, said he has lost about 15-20% business since the note ban. “But our brand value has kept us sailing through the storm. Our eatery contains moderately priced items and is one of its kind in CP where you hardly come across pocket-friendly Indian food,” said Chopra.

Dewan Sharma said he didn’t mind paying in cash, as “this is the only place where you get decent Indian food at Rs 215”. But Pankaj Saxena walked away, muttering “this is wrong”, as he wanted to pay either by card or e-wallet.

Navraj Adhikari, who manages the eatery, said customer loyalty and brand value have worked in Kake-Da-Hotel’s favour.

Source: Times of India

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