COVID-19 effect: Shimla's iconic Indian Coffee House stares at closure

Express News Service
CHANDIGARH: The iconic Indian Coffee House on Mall Road in Shimla, which has been running for 64 years and visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017, is on the brink of closure. Following a drastic fall in the number of customers due to COVID-19, its liabilities have grown manifold. It has not been able to pay salaries to employees for 10 months.

Talking to this newspaper over phone from Shimla, Senior Manager of Indian Coffee House, Atma Ram said: “We run on a no-profit- no-loss basis. We hardly have funds. For more than a year, the Coffee House we are running losses. We have a liability of around Rs 2 crore from the Shimla unit alone.”

The outlet has not been able to meet the wage bill of 47 employees, which is Rs 7.50 lakh per month. These employees have withdrawn their provident fund or taken loans against their savings. “The situation is bad, yet none of our employees has left us,” Ram said.

“There are several overheads as well like Rs 3.50 lakh pending water bill, Rs 11,000 per month garage charges. Somehow we have been able to pay electricity charges, which is around Rs 15,000 a month. There are other expenses on raw material amounting to Rs 4 lakh,” he added.

Ram says they earned around Rs 60,000 daily before the pandemic. “Earnings have dipped to hardly Rs 4,000. We are open only for three hours. I do not know how long we will be able to survive,” says Ram. Set up in 1957, the Coffee House was the most popular hangout in town. Besides Modi, LK Advani and , Indira Gandhi were among its illustrious visitors.