BY SACHIN KUMAR
DOHA: Higher rentals have begun to take a toll on some popular eateries here as four restaurants in the expat-dominated Najma have closed down in as many months.
The closure of Swagath, Regal and Jawahar has left Asians in a quandary. Atithi, on the other hand, was shut as its owner refused to meet the demand for higher pay by its staff.
Though the restaurants were serving Indian food, they were equally popular with expats from other south Asian countries.
“A few months ago, I had many options for eating out in Najma. But now there is just one Indian restaurant left,” said Ismail, an Indian who eats out as his family is back home.
Swagath was the first casualty of high rentals as it closed operations around four months ago. Price-wise, it was slightly on a higher side but people were willing to pay more because of its serene ambience and tasty food.
The closure of Swagath was a big blow for Asian families, particularly, as it was the most popular destination for them for dinner and lunch during weekends.
The second restaurant, Atithi, closed down due to a dispute between the owner and staff over wages. Nearly a month after Swagath was closed, customers suddenly came to know that this food joint was not going to open soon.
The restaurant posted a notice on its doors that it was closed for maintenance which made customers think that it might reopen in the near future.
A bakery is expected to open in place of Atithi.
The big blow for Asians came last week when they saw lights of Jawahar Restaurant switched off and doors closed for customers.
It was the most popular among expats who were living alone here. It used to attract huge crowd because of its low-priced menu. A lunch started at QR5-6, making Jawahar popular among limited- income expats.
Power supply to the building which houses Jawahar, another restaurant, Regal, and some other shops, has been disconnected.
“There was a dispute between the restaurant and the building owner. The owner wanted to increase the rent of the shops, while shopkeepers opposed. The dispute went to the court and the verdict came in favour of the owner. Now, we are using generators because our light connection has been cut,” said a worker of one of the shops.
Now there is just one Indian restaurant — India Crown — which is operating in the area and reaping a windfall in terms of higher customer turnout.