Kolkata: Red hot beer prices keep food rates cool


Tipplers in Kolkata may be ruing the beer price hike, but foodies have reasons to rejoice. In the wake of the excise duty hike that has pushed up beer prices by Rs 40-50, city restaurants have decided not to raise food prices this summer. They are planning to absorb the inflation-induced rise in costs to let consumers get over the beerprice shock. Last year, too, most restaurants had refrained from hiking food prices to allow patrons the benefit of a tax-dip following the introduction of GST.

Last month, the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) issued an advisory asking its memberrestaurants not to raise food prices. “There has just been a steep rise in beer prices, almost 15%. Raising food prices at this juncture will be a blow for patrons. It won’t be good for the restaurants either for a double price rise will invariably lower the footfall,” said Sudesh Poddar, president of HRAEI. He added that even though this is the time when restaurants raise food prices to offset inflation, this year could be an exception.

Oasis restaurant on Park Street, too, has decided against raising food prices. “Beer price has just gone up so we can’t afford another hike immediately. It will be pinching pockets a little too much,” said Pratap Daryanani, owner.

According to Pratap Daryanani of Oasis, summer is also the time when people visit restaurants more often for a meal. “So, a price hike will not be a wise decision now,” he said, adding that a review will be done later in May and in case business isn’t hit, a price revision could be considered.

Footfall goes up by almost 20% across restaurants in Kolkata during summer. But for beer-drinkers, it’s been a bitter beginning to the season. “What’s the fun of having a sumptuous meal if you can’t wash it down with a bottle of beer. A bottle of lager now costs almost Rs 80 more in a restaurant. If food prices go up, too, then I won’t visit a restaurant more than once a month. At present, I go out for dinner every alternate weekend,” said Abhrojit Ray, a private firm employee.
Popular restaurant-chain Chili’s Grill & Bar is holding on to food prices. But according to owner Rishi Bajoria, the decision is not just prompted by the beer price rise. “The rise in costs has not been too much. Our other expenses are under control as well so why burden our patrons? We might tweak a couple of food item prices, but that will be all,” said Bajoria. He added that an alcohol price revision was on the anvil. Along with beer, some other alcohol may also see a price hike. But food prices have nothing to do with beer, which is a separate segment altogether,” he said.