Wanna get our awesome news?

Subscribe to our newsletter!


Actually we won’t spam you and keep your personal data secure

As the voice of the Indian restaurant industry, we represent the interests of 500000+ restaurants & an industry valued @ USD 4 billion. Whether a chain or independent restaurant, the NRAI is here to help every step of the way. Join us!


No terrace, no service charge, no liquor: Not-so-happy hours for NCR restaurateurs


Thanks to a slew of bad news and lack of clarity on the issues plaguing them – from restro terraces in CP to service charge and the liquor ban – those in the hospitality sector are a disgruntled lot.
No clarity on CP rooftops, restros plan protest march
In February, the NDMC sealed the terrace of around 21 restaurants and bars in CP after two rooftops collapsed in the area, raising security concerns. The NDMC asked the owners to get safety certificates from structural engineers. Two months later, restaurateurs claim that the structural certificates have been submitted, but there has been no response from the NDMC. To protest against the “rigid policies of NDMC”, CP restaurateurs are now planning to protest at Jantar Mantar in the first week of May.

Priyank Sukhija, restaurateur and member of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), says, “It’s been two months and we still have no clarity from the NDMC chairman, Naresh Kumar. We have written letters to them and requested for a meeting, but there has been no clarity on whether we can run rooftop operations. Our health licences have not been renewed, we are paying commercial house tax for the use of the terrace area, paying high rent for use of the entire property, and only using a part of it. We are suffering huge losses and there seems to be no solution. So CP restaurateurs have decided to assemble at Jantar Mantar and raise the issues we have been facing. The protest will be like the one in February, when traders and restaurateurs came together to protest against the planned pedestrianisation of CP.”

Sources say that in CP, NDMC officials have started inspecting the sealed restaurants to check for illegal structures. “After completing the inspection and identifying the illegal structures, they will demolish them and seal the area again. They have already started the process in some restaurants. According to them, even a bar is an illegal structure,” says a source.
Customer to decide service charge: Govt.; Restros refuse
The issue of service charge has been raging since January, when the government first notified restaurants to put up notices in their premises stating that the service charge was optional for customers. In an update on Friday, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan reiterated that the service charge on hotel and restaurant bills is “totally voluntary” and not mandatory, after the government approved the guidelines on service charge.
After the government notification in January, the majority of restaurants across NCR had complied and put up notices making it optional for customers to pay service charge. But a few restaurants continued to add the service charge to the bill, simply stating to customers that “we levy service charge”.

Paswan, in his latest tweet, said, “The government has approved guidelines on service charge. Service charge is totally voluntary and not mandatory now. Hotels/restaurants should not decide how much service charge is to be paid by the customer and it should be left to the discretion of the customer. Guidelines are being sent to states for necessary action.” As per the guidelines, the column of service charge in a bill will be left blank for customers to fill up before the final payment. “If there is a mandatory levy of service charge, customers can file a complaint in the Consumer Court,” a senior Consumer Affairs Ministry official has been quoted as saying, but also that hefty fines and stringent action against a violation cannot be taken as the current Consumer Protection Law does not empower the ministry to do so. However, the new Consumer Protection Bill, under which an authority will be set up, will have powers to take action.
Not surprisingly, the development hasn’t gone down well with restaurateurs. Riyaaz Amlani, president, NRAI, says that “unless there is legislation, restaurants will continue to levy service charge.” He argues, “Guidelines are not laws. The present statement by the government is causing unnecessary confusion in public, adversely affecting the functioning of restaurants. It’s again reiterated that as of now, levy of service charge is legal and does not violate the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, since the same is mentioned in the menu/price list and informed to the customer. Service charge directly benefits six million people employed in the industry. Of these, more than 60% depend on service charge to augment up to 30% of their income. All the organised food and beverage operators employ the service charge method to ensure that all employees are beneficiaries of service charge – not just waiters, but also cooks, toilet attendants and cleaners. Unless there is a legislation, restaurants will continue to levy service charge.”

Measurements for liquor ban done, red tape continues
Jugaads and prayers worked in the right direction last week, when Excise officials came to measure the motorable distance of restaurants and five-star hotels from national highways in Gurgaon. It was “indicated that restaurants and hotels will escape the Supreme Court’s 500m liquor ban ruling as the distance was more than 500m for five-star hotels and restros in Cyber Hub and Sector 29,” said sources. But a week later, the establishments are still waiting for the final word from the Excise Department.

Even if they are clear of the distance ruling, they can’t serve liquor till they get the clearance from Excise and get their liquor licences renewed. “In an ideal situation, this weekend could have been a bumper weekend for us. From Friday to Sunday, no liquor will be served in Delhi because of the MCD elections, and in such cases, most people drive down to Gurgaon to enjoy a meal with a drink. We had submitted affidavits seeking measurement of the distance from the highway by the Excise committee, along with our sanctioned maps, and after that, measurements in the area took place. But we don’t have any final update about our liquor licences so far,” says Rahul Singh, honorary secretary, NRAI. “The process seems to be so complex and so many departments are involved that it is taking too long for things to move,” says a source.

Source: Times of India

Recommended for you