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Restaurants raise toast to ‘extra time’


New Delhi: A meal at a restaurant extending into the early hours has just become a possibility to the general happiness of both consumers as well as the hospitality industry The Model Shops and Establishment Bill 2016, cleared by the union cabinet, permits establishments to stay open round the clock. It’s a practical legislation that meets the demands of the modern day workforce, and the industry is visibly excited at the prospect of longer operation hours.

However, because the cent-re has left it to the state governments to implement the provisions of the bill, restaurateurs are hoping that local authorities will not only accommodate the changes suggested, but al-so ensure a secure environment for diners and hosts.

“This is extremely wonderful news and a victory for NRAL” exulted Riyaaz Amlani, referring to his organisation, the National Restaurant Association of India. “We lobbied hard for the past many years for the freedom of operational timings in restaurants. We now hope that the state and lo-cal authorities will cooperate and adopt this model.”

It is the idea itself that appeals to many, if not the prospect of additional business. “See, we are not chemists so we might not want to operate 24×7, but we certainly love the flexibility of remaining open till late” said Savar Malhotra, owner of Embassy restaurant in Connaught Place. For others, it could spell the end of a daily irritant. “Very often we have to request the customer to leave as we are not allowed to operate after 1am. No longer ” explai-ned Sabaah Sheikh, who owns an eatery in Khan Market, de-lighted by the prospect of her customers dining undisturbed through the night.

Saurabh Khanijo of Kylin too happily said that nightlife would be more pleasant with no more early last call or the need to wrap up parties by lam . “Party places will see a major increase in footfall and a direct result will be an increase in employment with such places requiring workers in double shifts,” Khanijo said. Clearly, the industry expects the new law to create jobs and increase revenue for the government.

However, Umang Tewari of Big Fish Ventures, which ope-rates 10 restaurants in Delhi, had a poser for the authorities. “Delhi rules permit us to sell alcohol only till 1 am. What is one expected to do in a scenario where your place is permit-ted to remain open but you can’t serve drinks after a certain time?” Rahul Singh too had a few sobering thoughts. Singh, who runs 35 outlets of The Beer Cafe in 10 cities across India, while applauding the government’s vision, said that establishments selling li-quor would need a lot of sup-port of the local authorities. “Several departments such as local corporations, police and excise will have to change their rules to permit smooth, 24×7 functioning of such establishments,” he pointed out.

On top of these procedural hassles, there is also the more immediate necessity of a secure environment for both customers and workers. Rohan Gupta of Hungry Monkey said, “Longer hours will mean ma-nagements should ensure safe-ty of their staff, especially wo-men staff.”

Sanjeeb Anand. owner of a Hauz Khas eatery, added, “Del-hi Police and the home department will have to understand the practicality of the new move. Better policing will be required to make it successful” Many people from the industry felt that the move would help the lounges and clubs mo-re than the fine-dining restaurants. “Our clientele are primarily families,” said Sanjeeb Anand of Essex \Tillage Gar-den in Hauz Khas.

“They come in the evening and leave by 11.30 pm. Clubs and lounges whose tat-get audience is youngsters out to enjoy the night life will benefit more.” Despite the model law being received positively. owners and managers in the industry were still apprehensive and wanted to see the final law before making plans. “We don’t know what they will eventually pass,” said Malhotra. “The catch in the law is not known so we can’t plan now The government proposes a lot of things, but what becomes reality is usually something different.” A similar note of caution also tempers the enthusiasm of others. “If we opt for late night operations, we will have to create demand for it.” said Sameer, manager of Yes Minister in Hauz Khas. This means in-creasing operating costs to double staffing and meet incremental electricity costs.

Source: TOI

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