Rain check, you may eat now

Jul 26, 2012, 11:29 IST | Ruchika Kher

Enjoying a drink or indulging in delectable cuisine at an open-air restaurant is a terrific option but come the rains, and dining under the stars meets with a watery grave. However, owners of al fresco restaurants in the city are taking great pains to ensure that the rains don't play spoilsport

Just like people don’t like confining themselves to their homes during the rains, eateries too don’t like losing out on crowds because of the monsoon. Likewise, many al fresco restaurants are going the extra mile to ensure the patron inflow stays healthy even when the heavens open.

Ask Atirek Garg, owner of Apicius in Andheri West. He has covered the al fresco section of his restaurant with a 6 mm polycarbonate plastic sheet, which has made the temporary monsoon roof transparent instead of a regular white, black, brown or blue covering. “Ever since I began planning this restaurant, I was always sure that I wanted to have a see-through roof during the monsoon because it would look great. Actually, it’s become an advantage; people love the look of raindrops on the roof and have been returning to the restaurant. In fact, because of this I have received many orders from private parties too. So, it has become a viable option for us,” says Garg.

The Prithvi  Cafe in Juhu

Even old favourite, Prithvi Cafe, tries to maintain a pretty environment during the monsoon: “We try to make sure the monsoon shed is high and not dark and shabby. We also need to make extra efforts as far as cleanliness is concerned,” informs Kunal Kapoor of Prithvi Theatre that houses the café in its premises.

Monsoon blues
However, although sipping into a piping-hot cuppa under the shed of an al fresco restaurant while it pours seems like a perfect plan, restaurant owners admit that it isn’t easy to create such an environment. Loads of preparation and thinking goes behind the maintenance of the place during monsoon time.

“The monsoon tends to cause a certain amount of inconvenience to everyone effected by it — or pleasure, depending on how one reacts to it. And one does need to take steps to deal with it just as you would with the heat of the summer of the cold of the winter. It is our observation over several years that there is a slight drop in attendance at the Theatre in the beginning of the monsoon — but it rapidly goes back to normal as the general public resign themselves, or get used to the monsoon,” says Kapoor.

Interior designer Suraj Dutta explains the phenomenon: “During the rainy season, precise efforts have to be taken in the restaurants to maintain the aesthetic and functional value of the place. At most places, the roof remains covered with clear polyester shade that is a permanent feature during the rains.” He adds that this season also witnesses creepy crawlies and other insects emerge and disturb the guests under the shed, so it is important to cover three sides of any restaurant with nets so it remains beautiful but hygienic as well.”

However, you can’t put a shed on your whims and fancies. Legal permission needs to be taken that allows the owner to cover the al fresco section. “For the temporary tarpaulin shed that we use to cover our café, we need to take permission from the BMC. The body gives a two month permission in most cases,” avers Farrokh Khambata of the Café at The NCPA in Nariman Point.

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