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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!


Restaurant operators need to strike a balance between revenue maximisation and welfare maximization



The recent Mumbai rooftop restaurant fire tragedy that left 14 people dead is not the
first avoidable tragedy in the nation’s restaurant circuit. The main cause of the accident
was the near absence of emergency escape routes, in complete defiance of safety
regulations. When will safety be on main course of India’s restaurants? Namrata Kohli
speaks to Rahul Singh, President, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI)

Fire safety norms are being flouted by majority of the restaurants in India. What
guidelines are you setting for NRAI members to follow as an immediate step?
Two thirds of our vast industry remains unorganised and susceptible to flouting
norms. As the investment entry barrier for setting up stand-alone restaurant or pubs is
rather low and seen glamorous in nature, we have witnessed scores of fly by night
operators enter the sector.

NRAI membership comes with the pre-condition of restaurants providing a copy of
their license to operate. NRAI will add further facets to this repository by taking copies
of Food and Fire safety licenses from all current member databases. The chains follow
the highest standard of com- pliance and governance, and we will be sharing their best
practices for others to follow.

Mumbai fire incident reiterates the need for better infrastructure at restaurants and
pubs throughout the country. What are the few quick takeaways from the episode?
As cities turn into mega cities, eateries are bound to mushroom as they are catering
to public demand. What’s going wrong is either the law is being flouted or the law is not
been amended as cities develop. The stakeholders need to be well aware of the norms
and also the consequences of not following them. Sealing of restaurants won’t help.
Taking care of public safety should be the goal.

The rules are all there but implementation is weak. But at stake are lives of all staff and clients. You have spoken about selfregulation but at the level of NRAI, what kind of penalty does NRAI propose to implement for noncompliance?

Apart from the safety of guests and staff, fire prevention is also essential to protect
the economic interests of the restaurant business. This process therefore happens before
the fire even ignites. One of the most effective tools for fire prevention is an external
inspection. Only a state or city appointed fire department can conduct a statutory audit,
however NRAI will engage with external agencies for periodic checks. While the fire
norms will vary from state to state, there are some elements that would be common. The
association cannot levy any financial penalty, but will certainly de-list the member for

What is your word of advice to restaurant owners who do not let go of an extra square foot, and create extra seating at the cost of security? How should they strike balance profitability and safety of their premises and the clientele?

Need for responsible citizenry that doesn’t see the regulations as a nuisance, but sees
it as safety and security of people and property. Flouting norms is not a mark of bra-
vado but a crime, an act that endangers people. Restaurant operators need to strike a
balance between revenue maximisation and welfare maximisation. They need to
understand that an aware consumer will start weeding the grass and steer towards legit

In the aftermath of the Mumbai rooftop fire outbreak episode, the perception is that
most pubs and restaurants at rooftops or even hirises are unsafe. What is your view?
Restaurants by their essentiality of open flames in kitchen, hot equipment, electrical
connections, cooking oils, cleaning chemicals, paper product and furniture have all the
ingredients for a fire to flame out of control. Fire Protection deals with prevention of
fire, while Fire Fighting deals with cure in case of fire.

Poor Fire Protection leads to necessity of Fire Fighting service. One cannot exist
without the other.

A rooftop or high-rise is equally at risk of fire as a ground floor restaurant, however
the infrastructure metrics are different and thereby the norms too. Legitimate
restaurants across the world are situated over rooftops, hotels and tall buildings. In fact,
the tallest point of the highest buildings in the world is usually an eatery.

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