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Dining out set to be costlier in some eateries in Kolkata

Restaurants cite rise in prices of ingredients, war and Covid

Debraj Mitra | Published 18.04.22, 06:58 AM
Dishes at city restaurants

Dishes at city restaurants

Food bills are set to be dearer in at least some eateries in Kolkata.

If the current prices — of fuel and all other ingredients — persist or go further up, many more bars and restaurants may follow suit.


Restaurateurs said their margins have been shrinking despite a steady surge in footfall since the removal of the night curbs. The production cost has gone up manifold. The rise in fuel prices came as a lethal blow because it further shot up the prices of everything else.

“We are going to increase the food rates by 8 to 10 per cent from May,” said Sagar Daryani, co-founder of Wow! Momo and Wow! China.

“Over the past 18 months, input costs have risen by 30 per cent. Procurement of raw material to packaging, the cost of everything has gone up. The increasing fuel prices have had a cascading effect on everything,” he said.

Kabir Azhar, director of Aminia Restaurants, said the food rates at his Golpark, Chinar Park and Behala outlets were increased by 5 to 8 per cent from April 8. The flagship outlet in New Market will also see a similar rise in food rates from next month, he said.

“Edible oil came at Rs 85-90 per litre before the pandemic. Now, it costs Rs 160 per litre. The Russia-Ukraine war has made things worse. The rise in fuel prices has shot up the logistics cost. From meat, which comes mainly from Uttar Pradesh, to locally procured ingredients, vendors are charging more for everything,” he said.

Asif Ahmed, owner of the Sanjha Chulha chain, said “some increase in food prices is inevitable”.

“We are working out the extent of the increase. I think it is going to be in the range of 6 to 8 per cent,” he said.

The footfall has been on the rise since the removal of the night curbs at the start of this month. The late-night crowd is back and the volume of orders per table has also gone up, said restaurateurs. But even the rise in volume has not been able to offset the losses because of the rise in production cost, they said.

“The rise in food rates will only offset the additional cost burden. Our profitability will remain at the pre-pandemic level,” said Daryani.

“During the Covid curbs, there was tremendous revenue-side pressure. Now the curbs are gone but the steep rise in prices has put equal pressure on the cost side,” said Abhimanyu Maheshwari, founder of Zing Restaurants, which owns multiple properties in the city including the Rang De Basanti Dhaba chain.

He had increased food rates at the Rang De Basanti Dhaba outlets four months ago. “Had I not done that, I would have definitely increased the rates now,” he said.

Aditya Ladsaria, co-founder of Chai Break chain, said he would increase his food rates by 10 per cent by the end of this month.

“A commercial cylinder, which came at Rs 1,500 a few months ago, costs over Rs 2,000 now. The rise in petrol and diesel prices has shot up my production cost by over 15 per cent,” said Ladsaria, president of the Kolkata chapter of the National Restaurant Association of India.

He procures pasta from Italy via a Kolkata-based importer. A year ago, he paid Rs 60 for a 500g pack. Now he is paying Rs 100 for the same quantity on account of higher container charges.

Some of the more established players said they would not increase the prices immediately, despite reeling from a steep rise in production cost.

“The input cost has gone up significantly. The margins are eroding despite a rise in the footfall. We have been contemplating a rise in rates but I have held it back so far. We have to remember that the consumer is also feeling the heat of the rise in prices in everyday life. We don't want to add to that burden,” said Anjan Chatterjee, chief of Speciality Restaurants that owns several fine-dining outlets in the city.

“We will wait and watch for the next few months. If the situation persists, we will respond rather than react,” he said.

Nitin Kothari, owner of Mocambo, Peter Cat and Peter Hu?, said: “There is no immediate plan to increase the food rates. So far, we have absor-bed the additional cost and will continue doing so. But if the production cost continues to go up, we will have to take a call”.

Last updated on 19.04.22, 03:19 PM

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