As the fans get ready to cheer for their favourite teams, restaurants and hotels across Visakhapatnam are set to host screenings of the game, but with all the precautionary measures in place

Indian cricket fans have never been so quiet, especially during summers – the season for Indian Premier League, which had to be postponed this year due to the pandemic. But it is now time to cheer for your favourite team again as IPL begins in Dubai on September 19. While the fans are all set to see top players of the game in action, restaurants and hotels across Visakhapatnam are gearing up to host screenings of the game.

“IPL is a busy season for hotels and restaurants as there is almost 30 to 40 % increase in the footfall throughout the week. Apart from independent restaurants, four luxury hotels in the city screen the matches in their bars every year. However, this time , due to the pandemic, it will be a different experience. No alcohol will be served as the government is yet to permit the reopening of bars. So, luxury hotels are contemplating screening of the games. Several cafe and restaurant owners are looking up to the cricket season to make up for the heavy losses incurred during the pandemic,” says Pavan Karthik, vice president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Andhra Pradesh.

For the past one week, the staff at Express Owl Cafe in Daspalla Hills has been busy revamping their menu. The cafe initially offered limited dishes on reopening after the lockdown. However, anticipating increased footfalls they are now offering Continental, Chinese and Indian cuisine.

“After the reopening of the cafe, we kept the menu limited to a few burgers and pasta but now we are planning to launch a reworked menu that will have biryanis, pizzas, noodles and varieties of starters,” says Akshay Saraf, owner of the cafe.

The cafe will be screening IPL in its outdoor seating area. “Everyone will have to go through temperature checks before they enter the cafe. We have also placed sanitisers in various corners of the cafe. To ensure proper social distancing is maintained, we have reduced the number of tables bringing down the seating capacity from 70 people to 40 ,” he adds.

How restaurants in Visakhapatnam are gearing up to screen IPL matches amidst the pandemic

Cricket enthusiasts watching IPL match  
| Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

If you want to wash off your weekday blues a beer and cool sea breeze as you watch the match, Vihar Restorts in Rushikonda is your place to be. A joint venture with Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, Vihar is one of the few restaurants in the city that has the permit to serve alcohol to the guests. “We will be screening IPL matches from September 26 as we are setting up the outdoor seating area for people to enjoy the game. We are currently working with just 40% of our staff as most of them are stuck in their hometowns in Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar due to unavailability of regular train service. Till we function will full team, we will be serving a condensed menu that serves a few dishes from Indian, Italian and Chinese cuisine,” says Seshagiri Mantri, owner of the restaurant.

The restaurant that has a seating capacity of over 160 people is currently serving only 50 guests at a time. “Every time a diner leaves that staff sanitises the table and the chairs. The interiors of the restaurant have been changed as each table is placed at least one and a half metres away from each other. The staff has been trained to take proper precautions and sanitise their hands regularly. They also wears masks, gloves and head gears all the time,” he adds.

Similar protocols have been implemented by Sam’s Griddle. “Every year during the IPL season we see a 50% increase in our business, out of which 30% is due to online orders. This year, we are expecting a significant rise in online orders as people are wary to step out. However, we will also be screening the matches on the TVs inside the diner,” says Satya Sriram Valluri, owner of Sam’s Griddle.

Hotel Matris located off VIP Road has made four private dining rooms, where customers in a group of 10 are given a table in a separate room that is sanitised and disinfected before their arrival. The matches will be screened on TVs placed in these rooms.

Rajesh Chowdhary, owner of The Vizag Drive-In is looking up to the IPL season to make up for the losses they incurred during the lockdown. “Before the lockdown, we used to have around 500 customers every day which increased to 800 on weekends. But IPL season sees around 1,000 customers per day,” he says. The drive-in has a capacity for over 40 cars and the matches will be streamed on big screens so that people can enjoy the game from the comfort of their cars,” he says. Located in Lawson’s Bay, the place serves a variety of cuisines like Indian, Continental, Chinese and American.

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