Mumbai: After malls, eateries around airport, beaches to be open 24x7
F&B industry welcomes govt move, but retailers and malls are iffy about new restaurant policy.
In more good news for Mumbaikars, the second stage of the implementation of the nightlife plan will begin soon, when restaurants around railway stations, the airport, beaches and in commercial areas, will be allowed to stay open 24x7. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray's first job after becoming tourism minister has been to ensure the clearance of his proposal for 24x7 eateries and hotels.
But while some people in the industry have welcomed the move, some are worried about low footfall at nights.
In the first stage of the plan, it was decided to allow restaurants, cafes and shops inside malls — gated communities — to be open 24x7 on pilot basis from January 26.
Interestingly, no new licenses or permissions will be needed, but an undertaking must be given to the authorities about not serving alcohol after 1.30 am, and it will be enough to keep the business running 24x7.
However, if an establishment is caught serving alcohol beyond the deadline, its permits will be affected, said civic sources. Food trucks will also be allowed to do business for the whole night in prominent tourist places like Nariman Point and Kala Ghoda.
The final nod for the nightlife proposal was given in a meeting chaired by state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray on Thursday. The meeting was also attended by municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, police commissioner Sanjay Barve, representatives of various restaurant associations and mall owners. Due to security concerns, the plan will now be implemented only in non-residential areas. The proposal was first mooted in 2013 by Thackeray. In 2017 the state Assembly approved an amendment to the Shops & Establishments Act to allow restaurants and shops to remain open 24 hours.
'It is an option'
Thackeray, while addressing the press at an event at NSCI Worli, said, "It is an option for establishments and they are not being forced to remain open 24x7, and we will start this on trial basis from January 26. It will surely increase employment, and each individual or company is free to keep the establishment open throughout, if it is financially viable for them."
However, the city is unlikely to notice many retail shops inside malls open 24x7, as owners had raised concerns about low footfall during the nights, at the meeting held on Thursday. But they are willing to try late nights on weekends.
Malls like Atria, Phoenix in Worli, Phoenix Mall in Kurla, R-City Mall in Ghatkopar, Oberoi Mall in Goregaon are ready to stay open 24x7. Kamala Mills and Todi Mills at Lower Parel are also likely to be party to this, said an official.
An official from the BMC said, "About 25 malls and eateries have shown willingness to stay open 24x7. All of them have been asked to be fire compliant and focus on security. Also, it will be up to owners whether they will stay open the whole week or few days in a week."
Municipal Commissioner Pardeshi said, "In the second stage of the plan we will allow places around Railway stations, the airport and beaches (including BKC), which are easily accessible to citizens and not part of gated communities."
'Great step for city'
Shivanand Shetty, president of AHAR (Indian hotel and restaurant association), said, "This is a welcome move for us. We had asked for places around Railway stations to be open as tourists will be able to visit a restaurant."
"It's great step for the city as well the industry. It's a much-needed change that we really appreciate. This will increase tourism, create jobs and better conditions, and Mumbai will finally be a city that never sleeps," said Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants, who will keep his outlets open on weekends first.
Hoping that this step sets a precedent for the country, Zorawar Kalra, founder of Massive Restaurants, said that this will positively impact three stakeholders.
"Mumbaikars and tourists will have access to great eateries.
Secondly, the government will make more revenue via taxes collected, which they can put back in the infrastructure, which will help the economy grow. Thirdly, job prospects will open up as most places will have to hire more people for the night shift," said Kalra.
"We are keeping all 25 outlets open, especially since the bars will be shut and people will need a place to eat. We are already looking at staff," said Rahul Leekha, owner of Coffee by Di Bella.
But some cafes are playing it safe. Sachin Awasthee, executive director, Ideal hospitality said, "We'll keep our outlets in Powai, Bandra and Juhu open on Fridays and Saturdays because they will get footfall at night."
"We will ensure security is in place. And even though we will incur an additional cost as we will also have to hire more people, if we don't try, then how will we know how beneficial this is for us?" Santosh Pandey, head, R City, said. They will keep the mall open on Friday and Saturday nights.
When Aaditya Thackeray first mooted the proposal
The date the new policy will take effect
'CM will decide'
After Kirit Somaiya, former BJP MP, pointed out that the Shiv Sena was not revealing the Metro car depot report since the committee has also allegedly suggested Aarey Milk Colony for it, Aaditya Thackeray said, " Whenever the report is ready, the chief minister will give his decision. Also, we are firm on our stand of saving Aarey Colony."
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