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Limited capacity, skeletal staff, renovation expense: Long battle for Maha restaurants



For restaurants and bars in Maharashtra, it has been a subtle comeback since the complete shutdown due to the pandemic. As restaurants in the state open the doors for dine-in, several operational challenges are still hovering above, limited capacity utilisation being one of them. Owners while welcoming the decision, haven’t expected a quick bounce back.However, things are getting back to normal in a slow and steady pace.

Appreciating the decision of CM Uddhav Thackeray for allowing dine-in restaurants to reopen in Maharashtra from the 5th of October, 2020, Anurag Katriar, President, National Restaurant Association of India, mentioned that it is one of the best news that the industry has heard in the last six months, and the extension of the deadline for liquor license renewal is much needed immediate support by the Government for the revival of restaurants post Covid-19.

Katriar also said that the restricted hours of operations (till 10pm) and limited capacity utilisation (33% in Mumbai and 50% in Maharashtra) will severely impact the financial viability of the restaurants.

“The mall outlets in fact need to shut at 7pm, which is even worse. We have appealed to the state government to review these concerns and we are very hopeful of a favourable response from them soon,” he added.

The Mumbai restaurants on Monday witnessed a lukewarm comeback with only 30 to 35% of restaurants being opened with the capacity of only 30 to 40 % of staff, limited menu and reduced timings. However, restaurateurs are hopeful that in the coming 15 days things will get back to normal.

“Restaurant owners ensured compliance of the SOPs in maintaining temperature checking, social distancing, wearing of a mask, noting down customer contact details. We are thankful to the State government for this day and look forward to more support to help us get back on track,” Shivanand Shetty, President, AHAR (Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association) said.

With skeletal workforce, one of the major problems coming across Mumbai restaurateurs is the mobility for staff to travel to work every day. “Many restaurants are facing a shortage of staff and the problem of mobility for staff to travel to work every day is also there. Also, restaurants were shut completely for over six months so interiors and other premises may need some renovation or maintenance. There is also the problem of finance. Over the last six months, restaurants had to dip into savings for salary and utility payments,” said Pradeep Shetty, Sr. Vice President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).

Most restaurateurs believe that resuming local train services may come as a relief for the staff to commute and more restaurants to reopen while some establishments have made it mandatory for the staff to stay within the premises.

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