Stung by the ‘no liquor’ order, Kolkata’s restaurants and bars, which reopened to a low footfall on Monday after a two-and-half-month closure, are turning to complimentary dishes, music, mocktails and a ‘private dining’ experience to lure their patrons back. Even though food sales improved considerably on the second day of resumption, ‘incentives’ were a must to raise footfall in the absence of alcohol, they pointed out. Alcohol accounts for around 40% of the total sale volume at 90% of Kolkata’s restaurants.
With the impact of lockdown still lingering and the virus threat persisting, it would be difficult for restaurants to drive sales without liquor, felt Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) secretary Sudesh Poddar. “Customers have started trickling back and footfall has gone up marginally on Tuesday. But since alcohol drives food sales, the latter is bound to remain low till bars remain shut. So, we must offer something new,” said Poddar, who owns Song-Hai in central Kolkata.
What’sup! Café on Southern Avenue recorded a sharp rise in sales on Tuesday. The three-tier outlet has reopened just one of its three floors since it had been apprehensive about footfall in the absence of alcohol. On Tuesday evening, the cafe remained packed. The difference was made by its live music, apart from the fact that it’s an open-air café, felt co-owner Anirban Sengupta. “Liquor constitutes about half of our total sales in terms of money. But we are also known for our live music which is back and our guests are finding it an attraction apart from the food that has been always our strong point,” said Sengupta. Footfall, he added, had touched 60% on the first evening.
Trincas on Park Street — which is yet to reopen — has added Thai cuisine to its menu. It resumed home delivery three weeks ago and Thai food has been a hit, said Anand Puri of Trincas. The only restaurant on Park Street that has live music, bands will be in action the day it reopens later this week. “New food and the music will be the attractions post-lockdown. I wish we could offer something more to compensate for the absence of alcohol. But the ambience and the music should be incentive enough for our patrons to come out of their homes and spend an evening here,” said Puri. He added that bands will now have fewer performers.
Source: Times of India