Restaurants losing customers over Baily Road fire

People ask restaurant owners security-related questions

Shahadat Biplob

Bonik Barta photo

Owing to the devastating fire at Baily Road on Thursday killing at least 46 people, the number of dine-in customers in many restaurants has significantly gone down. Some restaurants have seen their sale come down to half. And, those who are coming to dine in are asking restaurant owners security-related questions. Consumers say that on the heels of the Baily Road fire, they do not have the courage to sit in the restaurants with the loved ones. They are now opting for takeaways or online deliveries.  

Ibrahim Khalil, an employee of a private firm, visits Baily Road almost every week. “My family and I used to dine in at Kachchi Bhai or Kachchi Dine every Friday. I stopped going there after the fire. And, I do not intend to go there for the time being. The incident showed us how terrible situation we are living in,” he told Bonik Barta.

Mohammad Rashed, cashier of Nababi Bhoj, said, “The fire took place at the building next to our outlet. Things are pretty bad here. Naturally, people are frequenting the area much less than before. But, those very few people who are coming ask if there fire exits in the building. Sale has decreased significantly. Most of the very few ones that are coming opt for takeaways.”           

Like Baily Road, there are many restaurants in Dhanmondi. These restaurants are always busy. But, the situation has changed since the devastating fire at Baily Road.

“We are also receiving fewer people. The sale has gone down by half, which is natural. Maybe, things will be okay within a few days. Of course, people are taking takeaways,” said Saidul Islam of Dhanmondi’s Royal Buffet.

Al Amin of Chowdhury Dining in Dhanmondi said, “Our sale has dropped to Tk 20,000-22,000 per day from Tk 45,000-50,000. Very few people are visiting us.”

Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association Secretary General Imran Hasan acknowledged the significant slide in sale, saying, “Most of the restaurants are passing a very bad time. The turnover has declined throughout the capital.”

“We have spoken to top level officials of the government. We want every restaurant to come under the association. That will mean that no one will be able to operate without our no objection certificate. Following the submission of applications, we will visit the restaurants and clearance will only be given if we find everything okay. If this can be done, everyone will be brought under a system,” he told Bonik Barta.      

As of Sunday, 46 people lost their lives at the fire at Baily Road. Against the backdrop of the tragic incident, Police conducted raids at restaurants across the capital on Sunday. Only in Dhanmondi, 19 individuals from 15 restaurants were arrested on charges of irregularities and mismanagement.

“In our country, the administration only wakes up after accidents and loss of lives. Actually, there should be preparations and surveillance beforehand,” Consumers Association of Bangladesh Vice President SM Nazer Hossain told Bonik Barta.

“There must be efforts from both sides. The administration has a responsibility, so have the consumers. People must know about the outlets they are receiving services from,” he added.       

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