Srinagar, Jan 14: Amid a surge in COVID cases in Kashmir, the people associated with the restaurant business are in distress fearing an upsurge in cases will dent their businesses badly.
Restaurant owners say that during the winter months their business usually remains down, but they had high expectations from the coming months which now they feel will be spoiled by the spread of COVID.
Yasir Altaf, who owns ‘MeNu Café’ at Srinagar’s Bemina area, said that the business and footfall of customers has nosedived. He said that the online orders and takeaways business has also been affected.
“Without exaggeration, I can tell you that there is over 80 percent decline in customer footfall and online business in my restaurant. I talked to many of my other counterparts and the issue is the same."
"Everyone has been affected in one or another way. Although we follow all the SOPs, still customers are afraid of this variant and everyone wants to stay away from eating out. The past few years have been already challenging and now business was back to normal but this new wave has crippled the business in a huge way,” Yasir said.
Many restaurant owners said that they have bought raw materials for restaurants which are likely to be thrown away if the decline continues. They said they were already struggling to pay their staff and pay rent of their restaurant and now the new wave of covid has made things worse.
In the past few years, like other businesses, Kashmiri restaurants switched to online delivery systems. However, the restaurant owners say that as the COVID affected the dine-in, it has also impacted the online delivery and takeaways.
“I would deliver over dozen orders in a single trip to a particular area. Over the past few days, there are not been even 20 percent of online orders. The people are afraid of catching COVID and avoid ordering online,” said Ishtiyaq who works as a delivery boy in Srinagar.
General Secretary, Restaurant and Café association of Kashmir (RAK), Sheikh Imran said that the footfall has declined to a great extent. He said that the most impact has been seen in the footfall of local customers.
“The cases rose very quickly and this new COVID variant inflict fear into people. This is the reason that the business has been impacted. The little business that few restaurants are doing is from the tourist and that business is confined t few places."
"At my own restaurant, I have seen a major decline in dine-in footfall. It is important to note that we were already doing around 60 percent business due to overall covid impact from past few years but now this new wave has made the issue worse,’ Imran said.