The New Year began on a busy note for Kolkata’s bars and restaurants with footfall surpassing that of December 31, which saw a near-full attendance throughout the day. While the crowd had been relatively sparse at some places till the afternoon on December 31, almost all central and south Kolkata restaurants remained chock-a-block on the first day of 2021. With the year beginning with a Friday, the party spirit has been stoked and the rush will continue for a week, predicted restaurant owners.
A huge waiting crowd outside Park Street’s Mocambo and Peter Cat forced the restaurants to ask people to move away from the gates. “People queued up from 11.30am and there was a big congregation by the time we started serving lunch. We had to request them to disperse and informed those in the queue that they would be called when their turn came,” said Siddharth Kothari of Mocambo. He added that while the lunch on January 1 traditionally sees a big turnout, this time the crowd persisted throughout the day, swelling as the day progressed.
Most central Kolkata restaurants remained fully occupied till late on Friday night. Even though few had taken a late closing permission for the day, customers were served till midnight. “The attendance was markedly better on Friday, especially during lunch. This has been the norm since many prefer to eat out with families on January 1 and avoid the New Year’s Eve rush. This time, with the weekend following January 1, the crowd was better. We expect the footfall to remain high till Sunday,” said Sanjay Khullar, owner of Amber.
The rush could persist throughout the first week of the year, according to Pratap Daryanani, who owns Oasis on Park Street. “The first half of the day was better than December 31 and the second half was just as good. With the revelry crowd off the streets, families were out in droves. It has helped that the year has taken off with a weekend. So, we expect the footfall remain high till at least January 7,” said Daryanani.
The first day of 2021 also saw a higher attendance than the corresponding days of the last five years, said Sudesh Poddar, owner of Songhai. “It was triggered by a pent-up desire to eat out and start the year on a high. Weekends had been dull last year due to the Covid restrictions and now that the fear has receded to an extent, none is willing to miss out on the year-end fun,” said Poddar, who is also the president of Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India.
Attendance was far higher on Friday than on New Year’s Eve at Oudh 1590 and Chapter 2. While January 1 is always a high-footfall day, this year it has been better than usual, according to owner Shiladitya Chaudhury. “Footfall exceeded all our expectations with almost all our outlets remaining packed throughout the day. While mall outlets have not been doing well post-unlock, our Chapter 2 outlet at Mani Square mall has broken the trend on Friday,” Chaudhury added.