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And, you have guessed it: Blame it on 'increase'. "The frequent increases in the prices of ingredients, hikes in rent, the rising labour and other costs have compelled us to think of increasing the menu rates. Otherwise we will be not be able to survive," several owners of cafeterias told the Khaleej Times.
"Rent has doubled. I was paying Dh40, 000 last year and now the building owner demands Dh80,000. The staff also want salaries hiked. I have never seen prices of ingredients rise so frequently in the last 15 years. Now, the only way out for me is to increase the menu rates. I plan to do that after Ramadan," said Vinod, owner of the Al Safaqis Cafeteria in Deira.
Naseer, owner of Deira Star Cafeteria on Naif Road, echoes Vinod's words. "The menu prices in cafeterias have remained the same for the last 15 years while the costs of everything has increased during this time. We are buying ingredients at ever increasing prices but we sell food at a price fixed 15 years ago. We could survive up to now only because during this time the population of Dubai was also rising, and that generated business for us. But the recent rise in the prices of everything, from ingredients to infrastructure, was the last straw."
Last year, too, cafeterias in Dubai had effected an increase in the menu rates but had gone back to the old rates when the public slammed the hike.
"The last time we tried to increase the menu rates, everybody was against us. In the last six months the price of drinking water has been hiked twice. Rent has been doubled in the entire UAE. Nobody has any complaints. But when we try to increase our rates just to survive everybody screams war. We have talked it over, the cafeteria owners, and this time we are determined to stick to the decision," said Vinod.
An increase in the menu rates in cafeterias would hit the low-income group most. Mostly 'bachelors' who depend on cafeterias for their daily food needs. Living in cramped conditions, they lack any means of cooking at home. The hike in rents has already hit them hard. Now it looks like the cafeterias, too, are conspiring to make life that bit more trying and hard.
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