The festive season seems to have brought some joy to the food and fine dining business in this city of food lovers, as footfalls increased after a long Covid-induced slump.
Long queues were back as diners were seen standing for hours outside restaurants and bakeries in the run up to Christmas and restaurateurs are hoping that despite the scare from a new Covid variant, New Year's will be no different.
"The 175-seater Peter Cat, 180-seat Mocambo, in Park Street area, and the newly launched 150-seat Peter Hu? nearby were all jam-packed with diners from December 17 evening onwards, Today too there is a long queue as well before all the three eateries and we are anticipating the trend will continue till January 1," Nitin Kothari told PTI.
The Aminia Restaurants, which runs a heritage eatery in the New Market area dating back to 1929 besides newer outlets across the city, is forecasting a substantial jump in sales and footfall in the past couple of days.
"Post-COVID, things are looking up and we are all hopeful of a jump of 30-35 per cent in sales for this year's festive season which will spill over to January 2023. The crowds were far more compared to the 2019 pre-Covid Christmas season," Director of Sales, Aminina group, Azra Asher Ather said.
The last two years had seen relatively low-key New Year's and Christmas celebrations as the COVID-19 pandemic kept the world off the streets.
Sudesh Poddar, President of Hotels and Restaurants Association of Eastern India said there had been an up to 20 per cent rise in footfall in restaurants in the city and its outskirts since December 23 till this date.
"Also there is a surge in revenue, 20 per cent on an average, across the fine dining restaurants in bars and hotels during that period. We look forward to continuing this experience till January 1, 2023," he added.
Poddar, who also owns two dining restaurants cum bars, said with no advisory from the government about covid curbs they are following the old steps like regular sanitization indoors and asking staff to put up masks.
The restaurateurs said there has not been any declining trend in patron's visits to eateries after the recent report of few International travelers being tested positive at the airport. "But many customers are wearing masks." He added.
The association said there are around 400 fine dining restaurants in the city and nearby areas presently.
Shiladitya Chaudhary, who runs the fine dining chain Oudh 1590 said traffic restrictions in the central business district, helped push sales in the South Calcutta and in suburbs. "Due to cordoning off the Park Street by police where traffic restrictions were in place since afternoon, a section of the crowd which usually heads for Park Street came to other happening streets, sending a surge to many of our outlets," Choudhury said.
However, he cautioned that he would keep his work-force masked and would take the usual sanitization precautions even as business picks up.