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Now serving: Clean air at Delhi’s restaurants and cinema halls



Shrouded in smog, clean air has become a luxury in NCR, and stepping out for a movie or a nightout means battling the air pollution. In such a situation, increasing number of restaurants and cinema halls in the NCR are adding ‘purified air’ to the list of services they offer their patrons. While around seven-eight restaurants have already installed air purifiers, one cinema hall chain has retrofit central air purification system to combat indoor air pollution.
For restaurants, having an air purifier is as important as maintaining food standards

Last year, around the same time, what differentiated a few restaurants in NCR from the rest was an additional service on their menu – fresh air. As pollution level and smog in NCR reached its peak, a few restaurants got additional brownie points for providing purified air to their customers. This year, more restaurants have joined this list and restaurateurs say that “installing an air purifier today is as important as maintaining food quality standards.”

Says Shaaz Mehmood, partner, Ek Bar in Defence Colony, “In the last two years, air purifiers have become a necessity for restaurants in NCR. We have been getting very positive feedback from our customers since we installed air purifiers two years ago. The reason more restaurants in Delhi are installing air purifiers is because it is like improving the dining experience for the guests. And it is not a huge investment at all.”

‘When people are buying air purifiers for home, they expect them in restaurants too’

At a time when air purifiers are becoming a necessity in most households because of the smog and pollution, restaurateurs aren’t wrong in assuming that very soon, air purifiers might become one of the factors impacting their footfall. “Till last year, people were wondering whether they should get an air purifier for their home. Some thought that it is only for those who have breathing problems and allergies. But with pollution and smog becoming a permanent feature in Delhi-NCR post-Diwali, people are getting air purifiers even for their homes. So, in such a scenario, when people are going out to party or for dinner, they expect air purifiers there as well. Keeping this in mind, I have ordered air purifiers for all my outlets in Delhi and Gurgaon,” says restaurateur Dinesh Arora, who owns Courtyard Unplugged in Connaught Place.

‘Customers may not pick a venue on the basis of air purifiers, but it’s definitely a plus point’

For Piyush Jain, co-owner of Decode in Rajouri Garden, installing an air purifier a few months ago was to add to provide a better experience to diners. “When guests come and they see that we have air purifiers, they surely are happy and relieved that they would get some respite from the polluted air for few hours,” says Piyush. Inderjeet Singh Banga from Pra Pra Prank at Cyber Hub in Gurgaon adds that when he opened his restaurant five months ago, air purifier came up as one of the most important things to add to guests’ dining experience. “Customers might not choose a restaurant on the basis of an air purifier, but it surely is a plus point if you have it. It is not just families, but people of all age groups take note of air purifiers at a restaurant,” says Banga. At some places, it is customers’ feedback that is making restaurateurs install air purifiers. “A few guests asked us while dining if we have air purifiers in the restaurant and that left us with the thought that it might be better to have them. Also, a few regular customers mentioned it to us in their feedback that it will be better if we have air purifiers, so we have recently installed them at our restaurant,” says Rohan Kumar, MD, Fantom bar & Brewery at Golf Course Road in Gurgaon.

For consumers, air purifiers might not be the most important factor while selecting a restaurant for partying, but when heading out with their families for dinner, they say that they would prefer a restaurant with air purifiers. “We tend to not care about air purifiers when going alone to have a drink or even with friends, but if we are going out with family, especially with kids or parents, we do check if a restaurant has an air purifier, especially around this time when pollution levels are very high,” says Shivam Mehta, a resident of Panchsheel Park.
While few cinema halls have already installed them, others in NCR are mulling the need to install air purifiers

Outdoor dining no longer preferred

Open air dining in November and December was once the preferred choice for people in NCR but keeping in mind the pollution, many consumers try and make a reservation in advance for the indoor section. “Even when customers come without making reservations, they tell us that they would prefer sitting indoors. They only agree to sit outdoors if there is no option – if they don’t have time or if it’s a weekend and the indoor section is completely packed,” says Sharad Malhotra from Imperfecto in Cyber Hub, Gurgaon.

Fresh air is a basic right: Cinemas

On an average, if a moviegoer goes for a film, he/she spends at least three hours inside the theatre. And if the quality of that air isn’t good, it certainly is a health hazard. Keeping this in mind, these days moviegoers often go to cinema halls wearing masks. Noting this,cinema halls have been taking corrective measures.

While staff at multiple cinema chains told us that this is one discussion that can’t be avoided anymore, it’s only PVR cinemas which have started serving fresh air at three cinema halls in Delhi, and one in Mumbai.

Talking about it, Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, Joint Managing Director, PVR LTD, says, “The need to install air purifiers in cinema halls is obvious because if you live in Delhi now, you can’t wake up without looking at the grey sky. The air is so bad that it is impacting health. Now, when people are installing air purifiers at their homes,they should get fresh air at cinema halls too. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. We are providing it without charging anything extra. This retrofit service is provided at three cinema halls in Delhi –PVR Vasant Kunj, DLF Promenade and PVR Chanakya. We are planning to extend it to other screens too.”

An exhibitor informs, “We are still figuring the issue out because at the cinema halls, air purifier installation is not enough, we will have to change the whole system of air conditioners. It will first take over the luxury section, and then will be extended further.”

Tinku Singh, Group president, SRS Cinema, says, “People are coming to the cinema halls wearing masks, which is a casue for serious concern. If Delhi’s air quality worsens further, we will install purifiers at cinema halls too.”

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