Patronage picking up gradually: Pub owners


A fortnight after pubs and bars resumed alcohol service on September 1 under Unlock 4 guidelines, pub owners say the response from patrons has been good but, of course, nowhere close to pre-COVID-19 times. This was borne out by the sight of usually buzzing areas such as 12th Main Indiranagar still looking subdued on a Saturday night.

According to an Excise Department order, up to 50% seating capacity is allowed.

Ajay Nagarajan, CEO of Total Environment Hospitality, runs Windmills at the international airport and in Whitefield spread over three floors and with nearly 120 seats outdoors. He said: “We’re at 30% of normal sales in both locations. In Whitefield, we are very corporate heavy – 60% to 70% of our revenue came from corporate dining and entertainment but that doesn’t exist any more because nobody is coming in to work. That’s why we are suffering right now. At the airport, usually we would record a footfall of 1 lakh passengers in a day. Now, it’s about 30,000. But sales are improving there by the day as more and more international flights get added on.”

Stating that many of the patrons are regulars, he said: “Our loyal customers are coming back. They trust us and they’re familiar with the beers and the ambiance.”

While saying that filling the Hennur venue to full capacity (the venue has a seating capacity of nearly 2,000) is definitely not going to happen any time soon, Pravesh Pandey, director-partner, Byg Brewski Brewing Company, says: “It will take a minimum of one year to get back to pre-COVID-19 numbers. As of now we have seen green shoots coming up in terms of footfall. We are operating at an overall capacity of 30%.”

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Agreeing there are more regulars coming in than new customers, Mr. Pandey said: “It clearly shows that brand trust has been the major pull in this scenario. We haven’t even done any marketing. In fact, now, after seeing the footfall, we are soon going to have two new festivals: one a Chowmein festival and the other is season two of our cocktail festival called Gin Revival.”

Abhishek Gidwani, who visited Bob’s Bar in Indiranagar and Sanchez in UB City, says that there was a difference in experience between the two, referring to the former as packed. On being asked if he would step out to a pub again, he says, “Only if all adequate safety precautions are taken.”

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Sagar Biswas

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