Last nail in our coffins says Nagpur Restauranters of April lockdown
It is symptomatic of how the hopes and livelihoods of thousands of people in the hospitality industry were put to death in this latest lockdown.
With the state government’s latest order forcing a total lockdown of all restaurants – except take-out and door-to-door deliveries – restaurants in Nagpur fear “this is the end for us”.
Among the restaurants registered with Zomato and Swiggy, there are 1,500 to 1,800 medium to large sized restaurants in Nagpur City. If you count the Saojis and the “taparis” that are present in every nook and cranny, there are thousands of them. They offer food of all kinds: Punjabi, South India, Gujarati, Marwari veg., Maharashtrian and of course Indo Chinese. In addition to providing food to a large number of people who come to Nagpur from neighboring states for medical treatment, trade, social events, etc., they also provide jobs for thousands of people. Some very well paid “chefs” or Ustads.
“Badi himmat se 2020 ka pehla 6 mahino ka lockdown toh by kar liya lekin ab gujara mushkil hai » opines all NT hotel owners and restaurateurs spoke yesterday, recently in the latest lockdown.
Some very popular and high quality restaurants like Hibiscus and Southern Elements closed in 2020 on their own, unable to afford huge fixed expenses or migrate their employees permanently.
Bharti Rajgopalan, Owner of the South Indian place called ‘Southern Elements’ which was a very popular joint in Laxminagar opening early at 8 a.m., says she made an effort to maintain home deliveries for a few months.
“But most South Indian dishes are not adaptable to home deliveries. Imagine the pleasure of eating a hot Masala Dosa or Uttapam sizzling from the tawa to your plate! How do you wrap this freshness or crunch? Ask Bharti who really struggled at the restaurant’s nascent stage in 2012 to make it a success. “It was my baby! Of course, I felt very bad for closing the shutters indefinitely. But I didn’t want to join the mad rush of offering 50% discounts on Zomato or Swiggy by compromising on quality. ” She says.
“We have not only supported, but we have also contributed immensely to the food donation campaigns of the Langhars and service institutes by donating 100 kg of wheat, rice, oil, etc., in good faith for days. best would come back. But now our back is broken “said Mandip Singh Padam Owner of Sanjha Chullah which was originally founded by his parents decades ago.
“Neither the central nor the state government understood or appreciated the unique service we provide and did not support us in any way, ”laments Tejinder Singh Renu, secretary of the Homeowners Association. residential hotels and also a member of numerous state hotel associations. The government of Maharashtra under Shri Udhav Thakarey considered and took some initial steps to give us industry status, which would have been a huge relief, but this decision remains on paper.
Even the RBI’s loan restructuring measures are not helping them much, many agree. “When we are operating at less than 10% occupancy – selling hotel rooms or managing restaurant tables – how can we pay off loans even if they are postponed for a few months, unless we are let us be relieved as do the countries of the first world that are Europe and America? “
“My hotel has only one room occupied today in a 5 story property.” Renu said.
They have done a lot of first-person advocacy, sent numerous appeals to the finance minister, even the prime minister, asking for a lifeline, some support, but no response has been received.
Why have we been designated to be annihilated? Asks Aditya Naniwadekar whose family runs banquet halls and restaurants across Nagpur.
“Markets opened (and closed), malls were allowed, even theaters opened briefly; banks are open most of the time, even trains run and planes – full of customers, with hardly any free seats, fly but all kinds of restrictions have been imposed on us alone!
They all state that from the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, until April 2021, most of them saw a semblance of normalcy in business for just 3 months after Diwali 2020.
“Aur ab hum sab ka Diwala nikalne ki baari aai hai”.
Outside of the deadlocks, the Fear Factor generated about our business is killing us, Mandip says. “We are asked to only fill a third of the tables; first we were allowed to stay open until 11pm then they reduced it to 8pm and now no opening until the end of the month? Are we the only ones spreading the virus? And do they think we have a magic wand to survive?
“Kejriwal’s Delhi government has shown the way in not resorting to blockades. Why can’t others follow their pattern? “
Good governance, no confusion in policies, strict control of the rules… that’s all that was needed, many recall, citing the example of Delhi.
“If anyone is spotted somewhere without a mask there is an immediate fine of Rs. 2000 / but no real businessman has been asked to close. Especially not the restaurants.
Was it so impossible to follow this pattern nationally? “
…. Sunita Mudaliar