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Indian restaurants thrive amid COVID

Scarlett Green / Khmer Times Share:

Indian restaurants in Phnom Penh are still open and seem to be holding on as their owners not only own the restaurants but are also involved in other businesses or are also employed in different businesses.

The owner of Swagat restaurant in Street 278, Ashok Kumar,  said: “I started my restaurant in February 2018. The pandemic hit within two years of me opening it. I could not earn any profit because I had recently set it up and spent a good amount of money in renovating the place. I have lost 50 percent of my clientele as the majority were tourists. But luckily I still have expats who work and live here who are my regular customers and order food online or sometimes come and eat here. I can manage the expenses of this restaurant because I and my wife work in a logistics company, so we try to manage all our costs. If it hadn’t to be for our second jobs I would have had to shut my restaurant. I got work permits for my employees but because of the pandemic and the high expense I have had to send a few chefs back home.”

Swagat Indian Restaurant at Street 278. Supplied

The manager of Namaste India, in Bassac Lane, Prakash Joshi, said: “It has been a while since we opened our restaurant. So we are surviving on the profits made in past years, but the business has dropped dramatically. It is difficult to survive with only the restaurant business. Our owner, Roshan Lal Gairola, also has a real estate business with ready-to-move-in condominium apartments which helps us in paying our bills and keeping our restaurant open. We are basically making no profit or loss at this point. We get a few customers daily but not as much as compared with before COVID-19.”

However, the owner of Haveli Indian Restaurant, Sujin Gurung, said: “I opened my restaurant in March 2019 in Bassac Lane because a lot of tourists visited this area and initially I got a lot of business. However the pandemic hit us and now my restaurant is struggling to survive. Right now 60 percent of my business has gone. We do have back-up (on which he declined to elaborate) so we are surviving. We have only three to four  Nepalese regulars which is not much.”

Namaste India Restaurant in Bassac Lane. Supplied

Taste Budz Indian restaurant owner Sabu Sabastian said: “It has been more than seven years that my restaurant has been open and up until COVID-19 my business was flourishing and I gained a lot of profit. Since the pandemic, we do not have much business because there are no tourists, but I do have my regular customers who always order food and I have a tiffin (set course) service too that I provide on a monthly basis.  This helps me in keeping my restaurant open.”

Many Indian restaurants are struggling to survive and a few have already shut their doors because of the ongoing pandemic. Most of them have even sent a few of their employees back to their own countries because they cannot afford to pay them. However, there are some Indian restaurants that are flourishing amid COVID-19 mostly because they have other businesses that help them gain income.


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