Dubai: Ravi Restaurant staff, owners refute rumours of unpaid salaries

Viral social media post also claimed they had shut down a section of an outlet



By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 23 Jul 2022, 5:49 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Jul 2022, 7:06 PM

Staff and owners of Dubai institution Ravi Restaurant have denied all allegations against them regarding non-payment of salaries and partial closure of the popular outlet.

A popular online media channel reported Friday that the Ravi Restaurant branch in Satwa had closed a section of its restaurant and had not paid its staff salaries for over a year. The story was based on a social media post from one Dubai resident who claimed a section of the restaurant was shut down, owners hadn't paid the staff for 15 months, and they were given no benefits.

However, Khaleej Times visited at least two restaurant branches on Saturday to find the partial closure of the outlet in Satwa has been in place since 2020 after the pandemic hit.

At least 12 restaurant staff said they had received their salaries on time for the past several months. Waiters Shahji, Zubair, Ismail, and Haneefa noted a lapse in dues payment during the pandemic; however, the owners paid the staff their dues as the brand was 'slowly recovering'.

"We agree that we did not receive our salary during the Covid-19 pandemic, and those were the difficult days. However, the owners have paid us the dues later as we were slowly recovering," said Haneefa*, a cashier. (*surname withheld held at request)

Zubair, a chef at the restaurant, said, "The agenda of the campaign launched on social media was to defame us. Every employee has been paid, and we believe the social media post is a lie."

Founded in Dubai as a family-owned business in 1978 by Chaudary Abdul Hameed, Ravi Restaurant has served as a hub for diasporic and local families, friends, and creative communities to come together.

Abdul Waheed, the managing director of Ravi Restaurant, said the post shared online was baseless, and the author didn't verify facts before posting such information.

Waheed and his brother Waseem Hameed claimed they weren't aware of the post until they received a call from a government official from the labour department informing them about the social media post.

"The official told us that the post claimed we were flouting rules, which had gone viral. The official inspected the restaurant and spoke to the staff early Saturday," said Waseem. The owners said they possess salary slips and other records which show they paid all salaries on time.

"The person who posted this must have an agenda to defame us, and there was no thorough investigation before posting. If they (authors of the reports) had any doubts, they could've reached out to us before maligning us," said Waseem.

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted the restaurant businesses, and "We had to close down our Karama branch, and a wing of the Satwa branch as pandemic affected us adversely," said Waseem.

Currently, Ravi restaurant at Al Nahda is under a franchise model, the branch at Karama is operated under the partnership, and the founder and owner solely own Satwa.

"We incurred losses and are under debt, which we are slowly paying off. The Al Nahda restaurant was given away to clear the debts, but the new owner wanted to operate under the brand, so we had to franchise it out," said Abdul Waheed.

He claimed that the rent of the Karama branch was nearly Dhs 1.3 million, and it was difficult to operate, so it is under the partnership model now. "The landlord did help us and waive rents due to the adverse pandemic impact," said Abdul Waheed.

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Recently, Ravi Restaurant came under the media spotlight after it launched a limited-edition sneaker with international sports brand adidas. 'The brand customised Adidas Originals Superstar' trainers to create 'Superstar Ravi' in tne white and green colours of the pocket-friendly Dubai institution. Adidas sold the shoes in a matter of hours as it went live on June 23.

"We believe ill-wishers intentionally spread these rumours to hurt our reputation," added the owners.

They also said community members were ready to help sustain the business when they learned we were closing our branches.

"We are in debt and will repay the money we owe. We are getting back on our feet, and we cannot say we are stable for now, and we are hoping for better days," concluded Waseem.

- ayaz@khaleejtimes.com


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