Kolkatans shed COVID fears for fine dining in year-end

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Kolkata, Dec 31 (PTI) Residents of Kolkata were seen thronging fine dining restaurants from Christmas to New Year's eve, shedding their COVID fears.

Owners of several renowned restaurants in the metropolis have reported increased footfalls in the last one week.

Nitin Kothari, owner of Park Street restaurants 'Peter Cat' and 'Mocambo', said the establishments have remained filled till late evening hours in the last few days.

'We have reduced the number of seats by half from 180 in each restaurant as per the COVID-19 norms but there has not been a decline in the number of patrons,' Kothari told PTI.

To supplement the reduced number of seats, home delivery has increased and now comprises a significant part of the day's sale in both the restaurants, he said.

'We follow all COVID-19 safety norms. The response of our patrons since Durga Puja has been encouraging. The footfall is expected to be good on New Year's eve,' he said.

Though the footfall has not matched last year's Christmas-New Year season, it is satisfactory keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation this year, Kothari said.

Owners of restaurants 'Oudh 1590' and 'Chapter 2' said the footfall has been significant since the December 24 evening.

'The footfall has already touched last year's figures during the corresponding season,' owners Shiladitya Chaudhury and Debaditya Chaudhury said.

While the pandemic has not fully subsided, some people are leaving behind their fears and anxiety associated with COVID-19 and stepping out of their homes to carry on with their normal lives by taking safety precautions, they said.

However, home delivery services have also witnessed growth during the period as some people are still wary of eating outside, they said.

Chaudhury, also the co-owner and managing director of another popular Chinese food chain 'Chowman', said all the outlets were packed on Christmas eve.

'People had flocked to the Chowman outlets throughout the month to take part in our duck festival, as a result of which footfall has remained similar to what was during last year's Christmas-New Year period,' he said.

'Though the footfall was quite high even during Durga Puja, it seems people are now more comfortable to visit restaurants,' Chaudhury said.

The footfall has increased by at least 10 per cent since Durga Puja, he said.

The owners of the restaurants said they ensure that a limited number of people are allowed inside the outlets at a time and tables are quickly vacated after the customers have finished their meals. PTI SUS ACD ACD