Ludhiana, June 4
Rightfully claiming the first food court commonly known as Chowpatty at Phawara Chowk, the place wears a deserted look after easing of relaxations imposed during the nine week Covid-19 lockdown. Though eateries have been allowed to open, albeit till 7 pm for the time being, the traditional buzz and footfall is nowhere near pre-coronavirus days.
Shops, which take pride in selling street-food delicacies catering to all tastes, wear a deserted look. The market bereft of customers seems a gloomy place.
Owners/managers of a handful eating joints, which are open out of the total 18 shops at Chowpatthy, pass their time either reading newspapers or in small talk with their workers, who also look worried due to low footfall of customers.
“This place used to be a favourite destination of street food lovers all with ‘chat’, ‘tikki’, ‘gol gappas’, ‘kulfi’, ice cream, Chinese delicacies, South Indian ‘dosas’, ‘idlies’ and ‘wadas’ along with ‘tikkas’, ‘tandoori’ chicken and keema naans for non vegetarians. One could have street food of his/her choice. Children loved the place most,” reminisces Ruby, owner of Sweety Coffee House. “But post-lockdown it seems to have become a forlorn place,” he remarks in a helpless gesture.
“The timing of business fixed by the administration is ill-suited to eating joints, especially those serving lunch and dinner. In the extremely hot weather, there are no orders for lunch. Some orders for take away or delivery of food can be expected in the evening when shops are to be closed,” says Rajesh Kumar, owner of Mohan Vegetarian, a dhaba in the market.
“We are literally sitting idle and so are our workers because we are not allowed to cater to sit-in customers. The working hours are most unsuitable for take away or delivery orders in the evening. Due to extended lockdown and closure of business for over two months, most workers, hailing from Uttarakhand, UP and Bihar, have also gone back to their native places,” the dhaba owner added.
Another outlet in the market – Arora Refreshment – had all its stuff like ‘potato tikki’, samosa, ‘chat’ and other snacks ready, but there were no takers.
Owners of shops at Chowpatthy pleaded that evening hours for eating joints should be suitably extended so that they could at least cover their day-to-day expenses and also retain workers. “The government should also provide relief by lowering electricity tariff and liberal financial assistance to small business owners to help them tide over the crisis created by Covid-19 restrictions,” they said.
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