Free Press Journal

Restaurateurs insist on keeping right to restroom admission reserved


New Delhi: The order imposed on South Delhi restaurants to open their restrooms to the general public has not gone down well with the owners, who welcome the move only with a few qualifications. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) on Wednesday passed an order which directed all the restaurants (with restroom facilities) in its jurisdiction to be opened to the general public at a maximum charge of Rs 5.

The order came following deliberations between corporation and Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal, where both decided to go ahead with the move, prominently to cater to women who generally find it difficult to relieve themselves when in need, owing to the crunch of public toilets. Overall, restaurants have welcomed the move but insisted on their freedom to refuse service when they liked.

“We do not have any issue with the move. Even the shopkeepers come here and use our washrooms. But we have to maintain a brand image and we cannot allow everyone inside indiscriminately,” Ravi, manager of a Costa Coffee outlet in Green Park market, told IANS. “And that five rupees charge is a joke. We are not here for five rupees,” he added. Similar sentiments were echoed by other personnel in charge of the upkeep of their entities, who insisted on reserving the right to admission and a responsibility to maintain their brand image.

“We usually allow all alike, customer or no customer. But I believe the decision is a ‘wrong number’ in that the majority of the population which they (SDMC) want us to cater to, belong to higher end of society, who we allow anyway. But what about such people in not-so-posh areas- like Najafgarh, where they are very unlikely to find either the public washroom or restaurants,” Labh Singh, Manager, Dunkin Donuts, told IANS. “This is a complete misfire. The authorities are asking us to do their job, which is to make more public washrooms, which they should be doing,” he added.

A manager recounted an incident as a way to forebode, what may lie in future of the business if the move is implemented forcefully. “Once we allowed a ‘beggar’ woman to use our washroom, who created a complete mess inside and outside the lavatory. She was using the hose to wash her legs and in doing that she let the water flood entire floor… if such things happen then we may have to use our discretion,” a stall manager at coffee joint in Hauz Khas said.

Two others in-charge of restaurants in the same locality — one of the posher ones — said that they need to assess the ‘profile’ of the customers using their restrooms and said that they would not want to cause their customers any unease who in their turn may object to outsiders. Another concern voiced by the restaurateurs uniformly was one of hygiene.

“This is not a public toilet. How can the authorities ask us to follow this rule! Not everyone has the same hygiene standards, we cannot throw open the doors of our toilets, which we so fondly maintain, for all alike,” a supervisor at a resto-bar named Maquina told IANS. The order — going to be implemented from April 1 — has thus drawn congruent responses from the outlets who insisted on maintaining, contradictorily, their right to admission with a refrain that they will not have an issue with the order if only a certain kind come to use their washrooms. The question to ponder then is – to whose benefit has the order been issued?