Shimla, May 30
Hot coffee and hotter political debates may soon stop brewing at Shimla’s iconic Indian Coffee House, established in 1962, as Himachal Pradesh’s tourism industry falls prey to Covid-19.
The cafe, which has even seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi relish politics with the hot elixir, has lost steam in the past 15 months after the pandemic outbreak and is on the verge of shutting down.
“For the past year, we have been unable to settle salary bills due to our service not working and hindering our service due to the lockdowns induced by Covid,” said Atma Ram Sharma, director of Indian Coffee House .
“In the midst of this huge salary backlog and period of uncertainty, most of our employees, like those in other hospitality sectors, feel disengaged and demotivated by work.
“Even though it becomes fully operational at the request of our loyal, dedicated customer base for decades, with the losses increasing, I don’t think it is possible to keep it running smoothly,” he said.
According to Sharma, seven to eight cafes like this, run by a cooperative society on a “ not-for-profit, lossless basis ” in cities like Chandigarh, Delhi, Allahabad and Kolkata, have also seen drastic declines in income. , allowing many of them to close.
Besides Modi, Shimla’s unique cafe has hosted many top customers – the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and veteran BJP politician Murli Manohar Joshi.
While studying in India, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was also a frequent visitor.
Modi, during his last visit in 2017, recalled that he spent hours at the Coffee House with his journalist friends to keep an eye on political developments in the state.
And many members of Shimla’s academic, legal, artistic, and journalistic circles are repeat customers.
Before the pandemic, the daily sale of Shimla’s Coffee House exceeded 100,000 rupees. Currently, the cafe operates three hours a day due to lockdown restrictions with revenues declining from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per day.
“It’s really sad to hear that the Coffee House fell on a bad day. Our group, which has spent hours discussing politics and society on a daily basis over steaming hot cups of coffee, plans to develop a mechanism to keep its vibe alive by contributing out of pocket, ”said BD Sharma, former attaché. press release from the Chief Minister.
A moved Daulat Sen, a former government employee and a regular for over 35 years: “I first visited Coffee House in the early 1980s and since then it has been an integral part of my life, the center of social and intellectual discussions for government workers like me. “” Its closure will be a big setback for a particular class, which is said to be old-fashioned, “Sen said.
The ancients will remember that the cafe used to have a carrom board, playing cards and newspapers for customers. A plate of salted peanuts was served with each cup of coffee.
According to Sen, a cup of coffee in the early 1980s cost 2 rupees. Today it is 25 rupees.
The Indian Coffee House in Shimla was established in 1962, the store bought for Rs 85,000.
The octogenarian South Ramesh also prefers this place not only to taste specialties but also to meet a class of old friends, who visit this place with dress codes followed by the British, around endless cups of coffee to chat about everything from politics to socialism and national issues.
Prime Minister Modi said at a public rally in Shimla in December 2017: “Sitting at the Indian Coffee House with my journalist friends, I used to get an overview of political developments in the state. ” Modi, who was the head of the BJP in Himachal Pradesh from 1994 to 2002, added in a lighter vein that he had never paid for the coffee he had. His journalist friends were footing the bill. IANS