Kolkata Restaurants See Dip In Profits As Onion Prices Soar

Kolkata, Dec 10 (PTI) The spiralling prices of onions have partially affected restaurant business in the city, with owners apprehensive that customers might skip eating out during Christmas and New Year festivities, if they hike the rate of food items. With the kitchen staple still hovering between Rs 150 and Rs 170 a kilo, several restaurants are feeling the pinch, some of them even mulling to pass on the burden to customers if the situation does not stabilise. Shiladitya Chaudhary, who co-owns four leading joints in the city, said on Tuesday that his restaurant, ”Oudh 1590”, continued to serve complimentary onion salads with starters. “Surely, we cannot increase the prices of items as this will hit the consumers hard. We are hopeful that the situation will stabilise within a month,” he told PTI.

The restaurateur said signature items like ”Chicken Irani”, ”Gosht Rogan Josh”, ”Vegetable Stroganoff” and ”Lamb Ghoulash, need onion in adequate quantities.”While we cannot compromise on the taste and the recipe, it has become difficult for us to procure adequate amount of onions,” he stated. At Macazzo, a retro-themed cafe serving an array of contemporary and fusion dishes, co-owner Bitan Mukherjee said he would “wait and watch” for a while, before increasing the rate of items. “The skyrocketing prices of onions are affecting our profit margin. I will have to explain the situation to the customers, if need be,” he added. Echoing him, Debaditya Chaudhury, owner of well-known Chinese fine dine Chowman, said onion is one vegetable that does not have a substitute. “The prices of food items have not yet been changed as of now as it could lead to a poor footfall during Christmas and New Year. If this situation persists, we may have to tweak the menu,” he explained.

Secretary of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Eastern India, Sudesh Poddar, contended that he would soon sit for a meeting with the members to take stock of the situation. Onion prices have been on the rise for the last one month due to supply disruption from flood-affected states such as Maharashtra. Among others, household kitchens and streetside food stalls are reeling under its effect. Promod Jha, a ”jhalmuri” seller in central Kolkata, said he was forced to replace onions with generous amount of chillies and black pepper. “I used to buy 4-5 kg of onion every day. Now, I can’t afford… Hopefully, my customers will understand my situation,” he added. 

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