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Hurdle in way to eateries opening: Rent negotiation



More than a week after the government allowed restaurants to reopen, most of them in Delhi and NCR continued to remain shut as the rental disputes with their respective landlords remained unresolved. While those in Khan Market, Hauz Khas Village and Connaught Place are dealing with individual landlords, those in malls and shopping arcades are awaiting a collective deal from the respective leasing companies.

The Indian Express has learnt that DLF Limited, which has let space to as many as 100 big restaurant brands in Delhi/NCR at CyberHub (Gurgaon), Mall of India (Noida), Emporio and Promenade (Vasant Kunj), has now offered up to 40% discount to these eateries, while also waiving off rentals for three months of the lockdown in some cases. They have sent individual letters to various restaurants offering them rental cuts in varying slabs.

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) had recently written to the malls, but its president, Anurag Katriar, said that so far, not many of them have come up with a positive response. Confirming the development about DLF, he said, “We had elaborate discussions amongst ourselves on the issue but have decided that nothing else but a revenue-sharing model would be acceptable to us. We are not in a position to pay any kind of fixed rentals hereon since we are not assured of any fixed revenue.”

Katriar added that with night curfew, closure of bars and social distancing norms coming into play, notwithstanding zero revenue in the months gone by, restaurateurs in the capital are expecting huge cuts in their profits compared to last year. “In a city like Delhi where cases are spiralling everyday, there’s a possibility of a case happening in a restaurant. How can we be sure of any revenue henceforth?” he said.

At Connaught Place, Japanese restaurant Fuji and Garam Dharam have made their exit plans public. Umang Tewari, owner of Garam Dharam, said, “I am planning to shut down the CP outlet because it is a ground floor property and rents are very high. Talks are still on.”

Insiders said more than 40% of restaurants in Delhi will be shut eventually. Those operating in high-end markets such as CP, Defence Colony and Khan Market are the worst hit because of the higher rents. “Many people have folded up already,” Katriar said.

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