No takers for City View Restaurant

City’s highest restaurant has failed to attract visitors

FLOP SHOW

MAJID MAQBOOL

Inaugurated in July 2009 with a lot of fanfare and publicity after a gap of 21 years, the city’s highest restaurant City View Restaurant, perched atop a hillock at Rustum Gari, Dalgate, has failed to attract visitors in all these three years. And the hillock on the either side of the restaurant, held together by lose rocks, is receding.
The restaurant, at present, has only five employees: one caretaker incharge, two casual laborers, a chokidar, and a part time staffer. There are few visitors in sight. The chairs are empty. There is no one inside the visitor’s hall. The restaurant staff has to be searched during the day. The fountain outside the restaurant is not working. To reach this restaurant, you have to climb a steep hillock, which is a tough task for most of the visitors who fall short of breath in trying to reach the restaurant on the mountaintop.  A middle aged couple, holding each other’s hand, rest in between climbing few steps. Like others who want to visit this restaurant, they too struggle to climb up the difficult and zigzag, hilly pathway leading to the restaurant.
Minister of tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora had inaugurated the restaurant in 2009 and thrown it open for public after two decades of closure. The then Director Tourism, Kashmir, Farooq Shah, on the occasion had said that the City View restaurant would be a “big attraction for the foreign as well as domestic tourists” and its revival was “a step towards upgrading the tourism infrastructure in the state.” 
The restaurant, first established in 1975, was gutted in a militancy related incident in 1991, after which it was closed for public and subsequently occupied by CRPF. Till 91-92 it was frequented by many visitors, says Hamid, but after it was gutted, CRPF occupied it till 2007 and it was closed for public. “They were asked to vacate the restaurant building by the government in 2007 and the police was stationed here,” he says, “The construction work for the restaurant was started in 2008 and it was thrown open for public in July 2009.”
Although the restaurant offers a breathtaking, panoramic view of the city, few employees posted here say on an average only one or two visitors come to the restaurant in a day. It remains empty for most of the year because of its height and difficulty in reaching the restaurant on foot. “Had government provided the much needed lift to reach the restaurant, it would have helped people and more people could have come here without any difficulty,” says an employee who remains undisturbed by visitors for most of the day.  “Even young people are tired of climbing the steep mountaintop, leave alone the elders,” he says.   The employees say in a day only two or three customers, mostly an occasional tourist, visit this restaurant. “Some days no one comes here, and especially in these winter months very few people come here,” says the caretaker.
“Ideally this restaurant should have a minimum of 12 employees including waiters and other additional staff,” says Hamid Ahmad Shah, the incharge of the restaurant. “The government at the time of its inauguration had said that they will soon provide a lift for the restaurant but that was never provided,” says Hamid who has been posted in the restaurant since 2009.
The employees of the restaurant say the mountaintop on either side on the restaurant is receding, and it can be dangerous at the time of an earthquake. Rainfall further loosens the rocks around the restaurant.  Whenever there is a tremor, the employees say they feel in danger on this mountaintop.  Posted here few weeks back the two employees say they were reluctant to serve in the restaurant. “I didn’t want to be posted here but I had to eventually come,” he says. If a mulazim dies here, he adds sarcastically, the tourism department will send another one. “On the left side of the restaurant stones have been coming off till the fencing of the restaurant, and if there is an earthquake it can be dangerous here,” says Hamid.
On the right side of the restaurant there is a graveyard, and on the left side the rocks in the mountaintop have come off. “There are lose rocks on both sides which can be dangerous if they come down on the road,” says an employee. “There is more danger on the left side as rocks have come off because of stone excavation done in the past from the Suleiman complex side,” he adds.
The restaurant over the years could have become a favorite hangout destination in the city had government taken care of it after its inauguration and provided the promised lift for public convenience. “It is the highest restaurant in the city and it could have become number one place in the city had government cared about it after its inauguration,” says the in charge of the restaurant.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 18 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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