Aram Nagar, tucked away in a cosy corner of Versova, is dotted with casting agencies, postproduction units, audition units and studios. Apart from the quaint bungalows that serve as office space for these, work often spills into the cafes and eateries scattered around.
With the restaurants opening for dine-in under Unlock 5, these shuttered veins of Aram Nagar are again slowly getting its pulse back.
WTF!, a hot favourite among the night crawlers of the area that would usually see action till wee hours of the morning, has recently reopened albeit at a reduced capacity adhering to the
government guidelines and are limping back to business. “The place that used to be open till 3 or 4 am now opens at 4 pm and shuts by 9:30 pm. We could fill 150 people inside, but now our seating capacity is 40 per cent only,” said Prashant Pallak. Right next door, is The Tanjore Tiffin Room, Prashant’s second eatery. Although the restaurant was operational during the lockdown, it was only operating through the delivery services. “Our capacity was of 100 guests, but now we have cut down to 33 per cent.”
Swadesh is one of the oldest restaurants in the area and is also a favourite among the vegetarians. The eatery stands suffered acute losses during the lockdown but have been doing significantly better since the restaurant reopened. “Our restaurant is now open at 33 per cent capacity, with just two people per table. We aren’t turning people away but we want our staff and our customers to be completely safe,” said the general manager of the restaurant. They are also depending on the Metro to restart, as they got a lot of business from those alighting from the trains to work in Versova.
Harvard Miranda, the owner of Malwan Kkalwan, has suffered a setback due to the migrant exodus. “I paid Rs 9000 to get two of my cooks from Uttar Pradesh by bus! Plane tickets would have been cheaper. The rest of the members of the staff come from Dahisar and Juhu, it was easier to get them back to work,” Miranda said.
Scrumptious has been around for the past fourteen years, and is one of the most popular restaurants in the area. With its wide range of baked goods and desserts it would ensure long queues before the lockdown. Sunit Chotrai, the manager of the restaurant said that they are now open at a reduced capacity of 20 per cent. Jamjar Diner, another hot favourite, is scheduled to reopen in the coming weeks and is undergoing maintenance, according to Suraj Kumar, an employee. Viraj Tambe, the chef credited the business the restaurant received during the lockdown, entirely to the takeaway and delivery services.
Cat Café Studio, the first ‘cat café’ in the city, is shut but cat adoption services are still in full effect. A spokesperson from the management said: “We want to practise safe social distancing until the pandemic is over, and we will only open once the government clears non-essential services to be open for business. We are only open to people wanting to
adopt a cat from us.” Leaping Windows, the pretty café with a cool library and a fine brewery has also opened its gates. “We are open with limited staff, and the bar is also not completely open. We are serving local brands of alcohol only. The library is shut but we do have plans of reopening it by the end of this year”, said Cercil Rodrigues, the manager.