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Drive-in eateries in times of Covid-19

Food served in disposable plates and glasses and masks made compulsory form part of the new normal
A charpoy and chairs in front of the replica of the Eiffel Tower at Eco Park which has been turned into a drive-in restaurant; (right) the entrance to the drive-in Dhaba Ajante at Eco Park

Snehal Sengupta   |   Calcutta   |   Published 08.07.20, 01:30 AM

Two of the city’s happening places have started operating drive-in restaurants at a time when the Covid pandemic has reshaped the world.

The 480-acre Eco Park in New Town and the 40-acre Nicco Park in Salt Lake, which have been shut since the start of the lockdown, have kept the option of sitting in the restaurants. But visitors will be encouraged to make use of the drive-in facilities, officials of both parks have said.

Now, visitors to Eco Park can drive up to the replica of the Eiffel Tower from the park’s Gate No. 1 on Major Arterial Road that connects New Town with Salt Lake and the airport.

Those driving from Salt Lake have to turn left after the Eco Park traffic signal and drive for a kilometre before they reach the drive-in restaurant. People heading from the airport need to turn right from the same signal and follow the road along the park’s boundary.

Motorists can park their vehicles in front of the 112-acre water body opposite the replica of the Eiffel Tower and have food, served by waiters, in their cars.

Hidco, which operates the park, has rechristened the restaurant, Café Ajante, to Dhaba Ajante. Charpoys have been kept with garden umbrellas while following distancing rules. The seating arrangement faces the water body.

Hidco has put in place a rustic decor using traditional lanterns, charpoys and used tyres to give the area a feel of the highway dhaba, Debashis Sen, the chairman-cum-managing director of Hidco (Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation), said.

“The USP of Dhaba Ajante is the outdoors. We are getting a good response as people who have been cooped indoors for months are looking for safe places to visit,” Sen said.

Sanjana Choudhury, a resident of Salt Lake, said she had a good time eating at the dhaba. “I was yearning to step out of the house… this came as a great option,” she said, seated in the front beside the driver’s seat of a car.

Snehasis Sinha, the additional general manager, tourism, Hidco, said Hidco had installed glass partitions between tables and were serving everything in disposable plates and glasses.

Visitors to the Nicco Park can drive right up to the food court from the main gate and park their vehicles and have food inside their vehicles.

Earlier, vehicles weren’t allowed inside Nicco Park. Abhijit Dutta, the managing director and CEO of Nicco Parks & Resort, said all precautionary measures like temperature checks and mandatory hand sanitising for every visitor had been put in place.

Food will be served in disposable plates and glasses. Masks are compulsory for visitors and the employees of the park, Dutta said.

Both parks decided to start operating drive-in restaurants as earnings have been zero during the lockdown, officials of both parks said.

“The world is changing and we, too, have to diversify and adapt… given the pandemic. We want to check if we can keep our employees engaged and earn some money out of it,” a Hidco official said.

Dhaba Ajante is open from 1pm to 10pm while the Nicco Park drive-in facility is open from 1pm to 9pm.

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