Madurai’s restaurants barely see any customers despite lockdown relaxation

Restaurant owners in Madurai say that there is little or no footfall in restaurants

Restaurant owners in Madurai say that there is little or no footfall in restaurants   | Photo Credit: R. ASHOK

Several restaurants and hotels in Madurai district say that there is little or no footfall at their premises despite the relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown. This has hurt businesses, particularly new ventures which are dependent on dine-ins, say entrepreneurs. Many businesspersons in Madurai have either not opened shop since the lockdown or have completely closed their businesses.

S.M. Sanjeev, proprietor, Madfellas Cafe Lounge, says that even prior to the lockdown, his cafe would see maximum buzz during the evening hours, at around 7 p.m. “The restrictions now call for all dining-in to be closed by 7 p.m. and take-aways by 8 p.m. This really hurts our business. The minimum that the State government can do is extend hours for take-aways,” he says.

A. Sathish, proprietor of the relatively-new venture Kari Kanji, says that he has not opened his shop despite relaxations. “We tried it out initially but could not gain even minimum profits even through take-aways. It became pointless after a while. I am now focusing on my other business ventures,” he says.

K.L. Kumar, president of Madurai District Hotels Association and owner of Temple City chain of hotels and restaurants, says that with more relaxations, it is imperative to ensure that the restaurant timings are extended and travelling without e-passes is allowed. “For a restaurant like mine, which is perched on a highway, it is essential for people travelling in cars to stop by for a meal. That is the only way to stay afloat,” he says.

Mr. Kumar adds that several restaurateurs have not been able to pay rent or labour by solely depending on orders through delivery apps. “The government must also provide some subsidies to encourage us to keep the business going,” he says.

M. Jayaprakash, joint secretary, Tamil Nadu Hotels Association and managing partner, Hotel Aryaas says that he closed his hotel on March 23 and hasn’t opened his restaurant premises ever since, because there are hardly any people who frequent the area where his restaurant is located. “With no travellers, locals end up consuming food in eateries close to their homes. No one travels extensively to eat. Since my restaurant is located near a service centre and no industries are open, the business has taken a hit,” he says.

Mr. Sanjeev says that he is managing by limiting the number of employees in his cafe. Both Mr. Sathish and Mr. Jayaprakash say that they will open their restaurants after they see a significant fall in COVID-19 cases and travel opens up. “This is purely because most of us do not have a choice. It is hard to project now as to when things will return to normalcy,” Mr. Kumar says.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 2:58:07 AM |

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