Srinagar, Aug 9: As the government has relaxed Covid related restrictions, the restaurants, food outlets in Kashmir are back in business.
Food outlets were the worst hit in Kashmir post Covid, however now after easing up of restrictions they are slowly crawling back to their normal business activities.
The recent order of the J&K government to allow dine-in at restaurants across Kashmir allowed eateries, food joints to get their business back on track.
Though the resumption of business activities has brought cheer, however at the same time they are apprehensive about the future due to fear of the third Covid wave which has put them in a tight spot.
“Although the dine-in order has got the business back on track to some extent, however we are not able to go for hiring new staff and have halted expansion plans due to fear of a third Covid wave which is being discussed by health experts,” they say.
Issar Mir, proprietor ‘Eatalian’, a well-known eatery outlet at Hazratbal like many young entrepreneurs is apprehensive, fearing that the third wave has put them in a tight spot.
“Although opening of dine-in in Kashmir has helped to resume business, the business is not the same as there is liquidity crunch in the market due to back to back years of lockdown.”
While explaining the fallout of lockdowns on his business he said “The outcome of the losses is that the purchasing power of customers has been badly hit and that is the reason that despite the opening of dine-in the business has not reached to level of pre-Covid time. The eating outlets like mine are not confident to hire people and expand the business because COVID is still around.”
The owners of these food outlets also say that there is scarcity of raw material in the market. “Last time I remember we purchased raw material for thousands of rupees only to be thrown away. The wholesale distributors of raw material are also keeping a low stock because no one wants to take the risk,” said Adil Ahmed, a restaurant owner.
Sheikh Imran, General Secretary Restaurant Association Kashmir (RAK) said that the food outlets in Kashmir have been facing the toughest times from years now due to political uncertainty and Covid pandemic.
“The restaurant owners due to the current situation prefer to work themselves rather than hiring back the staff fearing Covid uncertainty. Although dine-in is open which is a good step but the economic meltdown has affected the purchasing power of customers.”
The government in July ordered the opening of a dine-in facility in Kashmir.
In Recent times many young entrepreneurs have opened food outlets and boosted the restaurant culture in Kashmir but they say that continuous lockdowns have pushed them into losses.