Covid impact: Thousands of eateries in India shutting down due to losses
Many small-time operators selling their outfits or shutting down permanently over fears of third wave.
Thousands of restaurants and other eateries across India are shutting down as the Covid crisis and the consequent closure over the past few months has resulted in massive losses. And with fears of a third wave likely to set in, many small-time operators are selling their outfits or shutting down permanently.
And the closure of these establishments has led to millions of people including cooks, waiters and other personnel losing their jobs.
M. Ravi, president, Chennai Hotels Association and chairman of Vasanta Bhavan Hotels, told the media that many of the smaller outfits have vanished as there were no buyers. “Losses have been mounting for those in this business,” he said. His own chain has shut down a few outlets across Tamil Nadu.
Another Chennai player, Sukanya Bhaskaran, who has a franchise of a fried chicken brand, said business fell by a massive 90 per cent and she is now desperate to sell. “My employees who left during the first wave never returned, and there was a huge pressure from the landlords to pay up the rent,” she told a reporter. “Sales were low and we hardly got orders through food aggregators.”
Anuj Mittal, who operates in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) said his business suffered massive losses in the two lockdowns. “Out of a staff of 60, I had to let go 53 of them,” he said. “I have taken loans to pay bills and clear other dues. Restaurants and eateries are incurring huge losses because of operational timings.”
The hospitality sector has been the worst-hit in the Covid crisis, said Vikas Singh, who owns Bercos and Pind Baluchi in the NCR. “This sector has traditionally provided for a large number of employees, but when owners are fighting for their own survival, they cannot keep staff for long.”
Besides restaurants in cities, the hundreds of thousands of dabbas that line up India’s highways and major arteries are also in a desperate state. Many are family-run outfits, employing both locals and migrant workers. Asin Sharma, a dabba owner on the Delhi-Punjab highway, bemoans the absence of motorists halting for a bite. The few who stop by only ask for water and tea, he told the media.
“We are in a very bad situation and the restaurant is on the verge of dying,” he said. “We have no work and huge expenses. Our condition is pathetic.”
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