Unlock Maharashtra : High operational cost, lack of workforce worries restaurateurs

Pune: After Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray allowed restaurants, bars and eatery outlets to open from October, Restaurateurs in Pune have welcomed the move. Some restaurant owners feel optimistic about starting their businesses after a dormant period of almost six months. However, few fell it to be a period with fewer customers, and issues such as staff shortage.

Standard operating procedures (SOP) will be finalised in the coming days, and precautionary measures such as contact-less menus and bar code systems will be made available. The industry players are affirmative in following the SOPs in order to run business and dealt with coronavirus pandemic.

‘The staff is also willing to come back as it is their source of income. We are going to be cautious as the pandemic is not over yet and it will not be over for the next two years, according to me. We can be cautious but can we can’t be shut for two years,’ said Praful Chandawarkar, managing director of Chiranjeev Restaurants and committee member of Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers’ Association (PRAHA).

Rohan Swant, owner of Roots 9 in Erandwane, pointed out,’it will take some more time for patrons come back for sit-and-dine as there is lot of hysteria round the virus was likely to keep away most of the diners’. ‘The way I see it, diner footfall will be low to begin with, which will in turn have an effect on my menu as well as the amount of staff I can operate with at one go,’ he said.

Another issue Sawant addressed was the ambiguity on serving of alcohol, he said one of the biggest revenue generators at restaurants is alcohol on which state has not clarified whether it is allowed to serve

Deepak Borawake of One Peg Down in Wakad, said, ‘allowing to open business is a good move but there is going to be challenge as the manpower is not available. Most of our staff are from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. While we somehow managed to give out salaries, many of our staff are hesitant to come back as the city is among the worst hit by the coronavirus. Even so, it will take about 15 to 20 days to restart full operations’.

Santosh Shetty, owner of Cornet Hotel and Sudama restaurant in Deccan Gymkhana, stated the impact of the pandemic on the economy has been huge and it will adversely affect every sector. I also manage the Paratha House, restaurant Kalpana, Annachi Chawadiand restaurant Swagat, all strategically located in the main city’. ‘Monetarily speaking, we could not stop fixed payments like rents, salaries and EMIs. We had to manage the payments somehow amid the circumstances. People who came to dine on a regular basis will now come once or twice and there is not much we can do,’ he added.

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