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Monday, July 17, 2017

Struggling to weather Holey Artisan fallout

Sagar Biswas :
One year has elapsed in the meantime but businesses in the city's Gulshan-Baridhara-Banani areas still bear the brunt of heavy security arrangements introduced after militant attack on the Spanish café Holey Artisan Bakery.
Particularly, the hotels and restaurants at the diplomatic enclave have been counting loss as both the local and foreign customers are showing less interest to go there. Besides, the law enforcement agencies are putting pressure on the owners to install security apparatus in their business establishments to check further untoward incident.
The scenario is all the same at Uttara Model Town where police closed down at least two posh cafés for not installing security apparatus as per their demand. In some cases, the foreigners have been 'requested' to avoid the restaurants and cafés on security ground.
At the same time, there are several check posts in Gulshan -Baridhara areas where all modes of vehicles are compelled to go under scanners. The police are also not allowing any parking of vehicles on roadside, which has appeared to be a big blow to the owners of small cafés and restaurants.
Moyna, a shift manager at Gloria Jean's Coffee in Gulshan 2 said, "Our sales have fallen. The number of customers has marked a 75 per cent drop just after the Gulshan terror attack."
Apart from the eateries, other businesses-such as shopping malls, departmental stores, grocery shops, fashion houses are also taking the pain of this unusual situation.
Several businessmen counting losses told this correspondent that they were thinking of shutting their trading houses.
"It is not possible to continue business in this situation. We're not getting enough customers. Believe it or not, we've lost around 70 per cent of our customers after the July 1 [last year] militant attack and subsequent security arrangement. Now it becomes hard to pay our monthly rent and other utility expenses," said the owner of a prominent steak house at Gulshan requesting not to be named.
Echoing the same, another owner of a café said booking orders now have reduced to 12 per cent, which was usually 80 per cent.
Almost identical statements were given by some owners of fashion houses and garment shops in these areas. "We're sitting idle. The presence of customers is very thin. Even, in the last Eid season, we did not get adequate number of customers," said Jasmine Rahman, Head Designer of a fashion house at Gulshan.
Not only that, the three-star and five-star ranking hotels in Gulshan- such as Westin, Lakeshore, Amari Dhaka and Sarina - are also experiencing similar situation. Especially, the lobbies and restaurants of these hotels were seen almost deserted during a recent visit by this correspondent. As per estimation given by the Hotel, Guesthouse and Restaurant Owners Association of Bangladesh and the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh, some 500 budget hotels, guest houses and restaurants are operating in Dhaka with an investment of around Tk5,000 crore and around 100,000 people are working in the sector.
Officials said there are 350 residential hotels, guest houses and restaurants in Gulshan and Banani areas which are still struggling to return to normal after the setback of last July's terrorist attack.
Owner of a pharmacy at Gulshan-2 reported a 80 per cent drop in sales after the Holey Artisan Bakery attack. "Particularly, the foreigners are not coming here," he said.
Md Nazimuddin, owner of a bronze material shop at DNCC Gulshan Market, said he has lost a good number of customers after the militant attack. "I sell antics and other decorative materials. Usually affluent people and foreigners are my customers. But now they are mostly avoiding shopping. I'm afraid that I will not able to pay my house rent this month."