Restaurants at the Fort Road Food Street are complaining of a significant drop in the number of customers since Ramazan started.
Only 10 of the 27 restaurants on the street are open for Sehri while only two offer special Iftar menus.
Waqar Ahmad, the Hotel Fort View and Restaurant manager, says the restaurant has seen a 90 per cent drop in customers since Saturday when Ramazan started. Zahid, who manages seven restaurants on the street, says that no more than seven or eight families can be seen at his restaurants at Iftar. “[But] Ramazan has just begun and we hope to see a surge in [the number of] customers in a week,” he says.
Cocoo’s Den, the oldest restaurant on the street, is open for Sehri for the first time. Abrar Hussain, the manager, thinks that the high temperatures and laying down of the track for the Bus Rapid Transit System from Lower Mall to the Data Darbar Road are the primary reasons for the low turnout. “It is too hot to serve food in the open and it can take more than an hour to get here because the roads are dug up,” he says, “Why would anyone want to come to the Food Street for Iftar when there is no air-conditioning and the prices are as high as the restaurants in Gulberg?”
“Also, Restaurants here are nothing special. Many of them are branches of restaurants that have main outlets elsewhere,” he says. He, however, adds that things might improve since “People like to eat out after the first week of Ramazan.”
Najeeb, manager of the Samawar restaurant (one of the two restaurants serving Iftar buffets), says there are more customers at Sehri rather than Iftar.
For him, one of the failings of the eateries on the street is that they do not include an “Iftar platter”.
“They are serving the usual local dinner items only. They are not going that extra mile to make the menu more appealing to the customers,” he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.