Moving over anti-CAA protests and expensive onions, the Yuletide crowd is ready to make merry over food and drinks. After two consecutive dull weekends, the crowd swelled dramatically across most city restaurants in Kolkata this weekend — the last before Christmas. While the jump was around 25% from the last two weekends, restaurants expect an even bigger rush on Christmas and in the run-up to the New Year.
The return of the dining crowd has come as a relief to restaurateurs, reeling under the double impact of CAA-triggered unrest and the galloping price of vegetables. “After a dull November, we had expected the crowd to swell by early-December. But that didn’t happen and subsequently the mood has not been right for eating out. But it changed this weekend with Kolkatans finally getting into the year-end spirit. Most restaurants remained full and there were long queues waiting to get in,” said Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) secretary Sudesh Poddar, who owns the Song-Hay.
If this weekend is an indicator, then the Christmas crowd could be even bigger, felt Poddar. “Evenings could see big turnouts from Christmas till the New Year Eve. Since people have not been eating out frequently for more than a month, the footfall could be higher than last few years,” he added.
The Chilis chain of restaurants witnessed a large turnout this weekend. “The crowd swelled suddenly and it seems this will now continue till the end of the festive period. The post-Diwali period is traditionally dull but this time it lasted longer than usual,” said owner Rishi Bajoria.
Amber in central Kolkata had a busy weekend, too, barring the lunch hour on Sunday when a rally left streets around the restaurant choked. “It looked good apart from Sunday afternoon when the crowd was reduced to a trickle. People are ready to make the most of the festive period but the rallies remain a worry,” said Amber owner Sanjay Khullar.
The festive period has brought another good news for restaurant-owners. Price of onions has started dropping, which will not necessitate a menu price revision in the near future. “We bought onions at Rs 80 a kg this week after more than a month of buying it at Rs 130 a kg. This is a relief,” said Poddar.
Decked up with lights, Park Street remains the nerve centre of festivities this season. And the restaurants lining the party street were bustling this weekend. “We saw a 25% rise in footfall this weekend. Going by the crowd on Monday afternoon, this will rise till the New Year,” said owner of Mocambo Nitin Kothari.
And restaurants are ready to take advantage of the rush. The Bridge at the Park will be serving a Christmas Eve dinner on December 24 and Christmas brunch on December 25. It will include cold buffet, chat stations, salad counters, soups and Seafood At Flurys, there will be new dishes both in the Tea Room and the counter menus. While in the special tea room menu there will be Norwegian Salmon and Surf and Turf, in the counter there will be new cake choices such as the ‘Chocolate chip and walnut brownie cake tin’ .
Source: Times of India