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Restros, bars can open till 8pm in Gurgaon, outlets expect footfall in lunch hours



In an order that came on Sunday evening, the Haryana government extended COVID restrictions in the state till June 14, while allowing restaurants and bars to reopen with certain conditions. As per the order, restaurants and bars in Gurgaon (including those in hotels and malls) are allowed to open from 10am to 8pm with 50% occupancy, while adopting social distancing norms, regular sanitisation and COVID-appropriate behaviour. Before this, restaurants and bars were only allowed to open for takeaways and delivery. While reopening of restaurants and bars is good news for restaurateurs, majority of them say that running operations till 8pm will make no sense as they cannot earn revenues by only opening for lunch hours.

Expect most lounge & bars in Gurgaon to open in July

Restaurateurs say that once they open bars and lounges, they’ll have to bear operational costs and pay rent. However, the major revenue for bars and lounges comes from dinner hours, and restaurateurs say there’s no way they can earn with the strict deadline of 8pm. “People aren’t even stepping out for grocery shopping right now, who would come to have a drink at a bar and lounge, that too, in the afternoon in summers? It makes no business sense for us to open bars and lounges right now and incur more losses,” says Rajan Sethi, owner, AMPM Café And Bar at Cyber Hub and Galleria Market, who plans to open his outlets by the end of July. Dinesh Arora, owner, Unplugged Courtyard at Udyog Vihar, says he can open his restaurant and lounge by July 15. “We’ll diligently follow all COVID protocols, but we urge the authorities to allow us to run operations for our usual business hours. This (current rules) puts us in a dilemma and it becomes tougher for us to negotiate with landlords. We are more than eager to open outlets as we’ve had the worst two years of business, but these time restrictions put us in a difficult position,” says Dinesh.

Vishal Anand, Director, SAGA & Cafe Staywoke, Gurgaon, says, “We welcome this decision of opening restaurants and bars. However, 70% of our business is from dinner operations, and opening till 8pm will not serve any purpose. In fact, landlords will start charging us for opening the outlet, and at the same time, we’ll hardly be able to cover expenses without dinner operations.”

Dine-in outlets in Gurgaon expect increased footfall in lunch hours

While bars and lounges are clear that reopening outlets with the time restriction of 8pm will only mean losses, the order is a welcome change for those running fine dining outlets. Lunch hours in Gurgaon when restaurants in Delhi and Noida are only open for takeaways and delivery will mean big business for these outlets. “I’m opening my outlet in a day or two and I’m sure all those who have fine dining outlets will be planning the same,” says Inderjeet Banga, owner of Pirates of Grill and head, Gurgaon chapter of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI). He adds, “This is a positive step and an indication that we are getting back to business, but since timings are restricted, rental negotiations will be tough for businesses that earn more than 70% of their revenue during dinner hours.” Joy Singh, owner of Yeti – The Himalayan Kitchen (DLF Phase 4, Gurgaon) and Raasta at Cyber Hub, adds, “I might consider opening Yeti, but the order came on Sunday evening and to reopen even that outlet would be tough for me at such short notice. I cannot think of opening Raasta before a month as evenings are our business hours. No one comes for drinks and dinner at 5.30-6pm in NCR.”

Despite knowing there will be losses, some outlets welcome that the sector is reopening. A few restaurants such as Cyber Hub Social, decided to open the day after the order came.

We’d want our staff to be vaccinated before reopening: Restaurateurs

Before reopening their outlets, restaurateurs say they would want to vaccinate their staff, and urge authorities to prioritise their vaccination. “The government must plan on getting the hospitality staff vaccinated on priority. Even during the lockdown, our delivery guys and kitchen staff have been working, and to restart operations, we’ll have to ensure their safety,” says Inderjeet. Joy adds that at present, the majority of restaurant staff (of those outlets that were not open for takeaways and deliveries) is not in town, so bringing them back and getting them vaccinated might cause delay in reopening. “It’ll easily take a month for our staff to return from their native places, as restaurants have been shut for about two months now. Before we reopen, we’ll try and get them vaccinated as that is a must for everyone’s safety,” he says.

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