In Tiruchi, no takers for tables, only takeaways

Restaurants in Tiruchi are yet to resume full services due to labour shortage and poor patronage

It is almost three weeks since the State government granted permission for resumption of dining services. But most restaurants in Tiruchi are still confining their business to takeaways due to shortage of labour and poor patronage.

When the Central and State governments clamped total lockdown on March 23 to stop the spread of infection, there was no blanket ban on restaurants.

The State government allowed restaurants to continue with takeaways keeping in mind stranded travellers and those who regularly eat out.

However, most of the restaurants, except a handful of eateries, closed all services after their chefs and other employees — nearly 30% of them were migrants — left for their homes.

As part of its measures to ease lockdown restriction, the State government permitted hoteliers to resume dining services — with restrictions — from June 8.

The decision was intended to bring relief to the hoteliers, but many are less than enthused.

Barring a few restaurants at Central Bus Stand in Tiruchi, many have not resumed dining services.

Contrary to expectations that they will begin offering dining services within a week or two, most of them are yet to resume full-fledged operations. Only mid-range and road side eateries are offering both parcel and dining services.

Restaurants owners cite poor patronage, fear of contracting infection, shortage of labour and surge in number of positive cases as reasons for not resuming dining services.

“It is really a testing time for us. We hardly get our regular customers. There is fear of contracting infection if they dine at restaurants. Hence, we have not resumed dining service,” says C. Sathish, Managing Partner, Ezham Suvai, Thillai Nagar.

The volume of sale is just 30% of the usual transaction at his hotel. It is hardly sufficient to pay rent, salary, electricity bill and other overheads.

Many restaurants have incurred heavy losses.

According to industry sources, most of the restaurants offer only limited menus due to shortage of chefs and assistants.

There is acute shortage of specialised chefs for tandoori and Chinese cuisine as they have not returned from their native places.

A manager of a non-vegetarian restaurant at Chathiram Bus Stand says workers and specialists are available only for traditional south Indian varieties such as dosa and parotta.

Hence, it is not advisable to offer continental and tandoori cuisine as specialists have left for their native States, the hotelier points out.

The restaurant owners are not prepared to take any chances with the available staff when it comes to both cuisines as they feel that they will not be able to meet the usual expectations of their customers.

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