Patrons at a Park Street restaurant on a Puja day KOLKATA: The food and beverage industry in Kolkata clocked record footfall and revenues this Durga Puja as people took to revenge eating after nearly two years of caution and restraint.The heavy rush saw many restaurants being forced to down shutters after they ran out of food.Restaurateurs who have been in business for decades said they have never witnessed anything like this in their lifetime.
“What we have been witnessing since last Friday is extraordinary.While we usually do two-times the regular business during the Puja days, restaurants have done almost 25%-30% more business than they did during the festival in 2019.
I think every restaurant would smash their own record in terms of footfall and revenue in the week gone by,” said Hotel & Restaurant Association of Eastern India president Sudesh Poddar, who operates Manthan, Songhai and MS Bar & Lounge.
Despite stocking up for the extra business, Poddar got an early warning when last Sunday on Shashthi, the restaurants ran out of stock around 11.30 pm and had to say no to customers.Anand Puri, co-owner of heritage restaurant Trinca’s on Park Street, had a similar experience on Navami.
“I was in the kitchen of most of the Pujas, managing the surfeit of orders.After nearly two years of confinement and restraint, people just went the whole hog,” said Puri.
Anjan Chatterjee, who has 38 restaurants in Kolkata, including Oh! Calcutta, Mainland China and Flame & Grill, said the restaurants had not only done 25% more sales than before, they would have done at least 30% more business had there been more tables to accommodate patrons.
“What we witnessed was revenge eating.
People who have been indoors or lived a cautious life these past 18 months have stepped out and splurged with a vengeance.And it isn’t just Kolkata.
Our restaurants in other parts of the country have also recorded 25% higher business.In London, Bengali cuisine restaurant Chourangi had queues and people jostling for a table,” recounted Chatterjee.
Nitin Kothari, owner of Momcambo, Peter Cat and Peter Hu, had anticipated a huge turnout.But he, too, admitted the numbers exceeded his expectations.“I told my people to stock up well for this Puja.
Yet, we did run out of some items towards the late evening,” he recounted.
Rishi Bajoria, who operates Chili’s and Royal China, said sales had been at least 20% higher than the previous highest that his restaurants had recorded.“Footfalls were higher than before as was per cover sales.What is most heartening is that this has happened despite so many restaurants and bars opening shops in recent times.”
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