Eating Out In Goa Post-Lockdown

Eating Out In Goa Post-Lockdown
Patrons have to wait for some more time before they can raise their glasses, Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Diners along with bar owners and restaurateurs wait eagerly for the lifting of restrictions regarding liquor services in establishments and curfew hours

Uttara Gangopadhyay
July 02 , 2020
07 Min Read

“We cannot open till the government lifts the ban on serving liquor in restaurants and bars,” says Atish António Fernandes a tad sadly to the caller on the phone. Fernandes is at the helm of one of Goa’s best known watering holes, the almost legendary Joseph Bar, located in Panjim’s old Latin Quarters.

 
 
 
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A post shared by JosephBar (@josephbarpanjim) on Nov 14, 2019 at 10:59pm PST

Unlock 2.0 has not brought any good tidings for the Goan restaurant industry as far as opening of bars or serving alcohol in restaurants is concerned. Most restaurateurs too are of the opinion that unless the restriction on serving liquor is lifted, the footfall will not increase because drinking and dining go hand in hand in Goa. “Why will anyone take the trouble of going out to eat, when they can easily ask for home delivery from a restaurant of their choice while enjoying their favourite tipple at home?” asks a restaurateur, with a reminder that liquor shops have been allowed to open since Unlock 1.

Peep kitchen employee holding fresh fish during lockdown

Peep Kitchen (located in Taleigao near Panjim) serves a mix of Oriental, North Indian and Goan cuisine. “We specialise in traditional Goan dishes based on forgotten dishes or rarely made at home owing to the tedious process involved,” says co-owner Amey Naik. He points out that footfalls are also affected owing to the 9pm curfew. "Can you imagine people rushing home to stay within the law in a state known for its vibrant nightlife?" he rues. Peep Kitchen is also open for home delivery/takeaways.

Read: How Goan Restaurants Are Re-Inventing Things In The Pandemic Era

“Patrons used to flock to our café for the musical performances and enjoy the food and drink alongside,” said Nathaniel Da Costa, co-partner of Hideaway. “But ever since the pandemic crisis, we have had to reinvent ourselves.” From being a place sought for its musical gigs and other cultural events to a diner that offered food delivery/takeaway service, it has been a huge challenge for this Vagator-based entrepreneurial venture. “To stay afloat, we started with home delivery in April,” said Da Costa. “We researched what kind of food people would like to have at home, the look, the flavours, which dishes will withstand the rigours of delivery or will still taste good after being reheated, etc. We had to virtually reinvent our menu. Being short staffed, my partners and I even delivered food until we signed up with a food delivery app.” Now open for dine-in, with adherence to all protocols and guidelines, they have preferred to keep a short and simple menu consisting of bagels, sandwiches, risotto and a few fusion dishes that play with local flavours. And to keep the music alive, Hideaway has gone online.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Hideaway (@hideaway.goa) on Sep 29, 2019 at 4:38am PDT

Although Passcode Hospitality has decided to open its Vietnamese beer garden styled Ping’s Bia Hoi (but not their other property Jamun’s in Assagao) located in Sangolda, owner and managing director Rakshay Dhariwal too reiterated that to boost Goa’s restaurant industry, it is important for the liquor restrictions imposed on establishments to be lifted as well as the curfew hours at night pushed beyond 9pm. Adjusting to the restriction, Ping’s Bia Hoi, which was already into home delivery/takeaway services, has revamped its menu, focusing more on comfort food prepared with local ingredients, retaining some of their old favourites and adding a few new ones.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Ping's Bia Hoi (@pingsgoa) on Jun 22, 2020 at 4:46am PDT

Although restaurants are gradually opening since June 8, many prefer to continue with their home delivery/takeaway services because the restricted opening may not be cost effective for them. According to latest reports, the Goa Hotels and Restaurants Association has approached the state chief minister regarding the impact of the liquor restrictions and the curfew on the restaurant industry. Talking to the media, Gaurish Dhond, president of the association pointed out that in Goa liquor is part of the culture and bars are an integral part of the restaurants. Hence unless the restrictions are lifted, it will be difficult for restaurants to function with limited footfalls.

Note: Restaurants in Goa are opening gradually for dine in with limited hours of service. Also most are accepting advance reservations only. Guests have to maintain mandatory protocols, such as wearing masks. The restaurants may send you the menu in advance for ordering and also request online payment only. Most restaurants are also offering home deliveries and takeaways. Do remember, imposition or relaxation of pandemic containment rules are dependent on the situation and the government orders. Hence check with the restaurants before heading out.


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