The city’s Italian and Chinese restaurants are hoping to boost their traditionally slow sales during the month of fasting by adding spicy Pakistani snacks and Thai food to their iftar menus.
Sales at restaurants serving non-Pakistani food fall by half during the first two weeks of Ramazan, estimated Muhammad Ashraf Khan, who has managed restaurants for 20 years, including Stevie’s Golden Wok in Defence for the last 10. “Customers want the instant satisfaction that comes from fatty and spicy Pakistani food.
Chinese food is neither spicy nor oily,” said Khan.
He said that the restaurant would offer a platter of chicken pakoras, samosas and a variety of chaats in Ramazan.
The Verandah Bistro, an Italian restaurant in Gulberg, will add Thai curries and spicy Moroccan dishes to its iftar menu, said its manager Aftab Ahmad. “We’ll offer platters of fried snacks and a variety of traditional chutneys as well as some drinks for free for people breaking their fast,” he said.
He too said sales were traditionally slow in the first two weeks of the month. “In the third week things pick up and you get more people wanting to book the place for iftar parties,” he said.
Representatives of Yum Chinese Restaurant, the English Tea House and Ciro’s Pomodoro, an Italian eatery off Cavalry Bridge, said they would offer cheaper all-you-can-eat iftar packages than their competitors on MM Alam Road.
A manager at Yum said that their iftar buffet would feature a large variety of seafood and Thai-style dishes at Rs1,295 per head. “Our customers are the same as Café Aylanto and Freddy’s but the package we offer is way more economical,” he said.
He said rising overheads had affected the restaurant industry. “There has been an over 30 per cent rise in food prices and electricity costs this year.
There is no check on overcharging and we’re forced to buy ingredients at higher prices in Ramazan. It’s unfair and makes the job of creating attractive packages much harder,” he said.
Jamil, a foodie who says he eats at Ciro’s or Aylanto three to four times a week, said though Italian was his favourite cuisine, he liked to break his fast with fried food. “It gives you satisfaction like nothing else in Ramazan. We all know it’s bad for us but it’s comfort food. I love it,” he said.
Not all eateries are getting into the Ramazan spirit though. Italian restaurant Luciano’s has closed for the holy month. “Business is slow in Ramazan so the owner has decided to take a break,” said its manager Khalid Shaikh.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.