HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS.
During the early decades of this century hotels and restaurants
were almost non-existent in the district excepting a very few at
Chandrapur. It is only recently that the hotelling business has
flourished. As per the 1961 Census 983 persons including 920
men and 63 women were employed in services rendered by hotels, boarding houses, eating houses, cafes, restaurants and similar other organisations to provide lodging and boarding facilities. Now every big village in the district has a tea shop. The growth in the catering business could mainly be attributed to the changing socio-economic conditions such as industrialisation, break-up of the joint family system, migration of population from rural to urban areas, etc.
The establishments coming under this category differed in size. A few, mostly in rural areas, served only tea and were a one man establishments while a few others of a considerable size had a large clientele. These establishments generally served snacks besides meals to the customers. Many of them in the district headquarters were owned and managed by Udipis and Punjabis. Besides, there were other hotels controlled and owned by Rajasthanis and Maharashtrians.
The business in most of the cases was not hereditary and was run on a proprietary basis. The establishments rarely approached a bank for their capital requirements, their main source of finance being relatives and friends and at times indigenous money-lenders. The rate of interest in the case of the former was found to be appreciably low.
Some of these restaurants served tea exclusively while some combined other
beverages with tea. A few of them also served eatables. Some even served meals
either on full plate or on rice plate system. These shops were generally located
near the motor stand, the railway station, the market place as they provided
them with a good clientele, the places being most frequented. The urban
establishments which generally gave an agreeable appearance served a variety of
eatables. Many establishments also served milk products. The furniture of such
establishments consisted of chairs, tables and cupboards, mirrors, etc.
The materials required for the occupation comprised rice, wheat, gram flour, rava (semolina), vanaspati, edible oils, condiments and spices, vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, potatoes, chillis, tea leaf and dust, sugar, milk, coffee and a number of such articles besides fuel. The extent of consumption of these articles was commensurate with the size of the establishment and the volume of turnover. The expenditure incurred on these items by big establishments in urban areas was Rs. 1,500 per year as compared to similar establishments in rural areas in case of which it was Rs. 600 per year.
The use of benches as furniture was a very common sight in a rural hotel. In urban hotels, their place was taken by chairs and tables. Generally decorative mirrors were seen hung or fitted in some shops that were well established in business. Some of them were well equipped even with radio-sets placed generally very close to the counter and blaring cine-music for most of the time. However the furniture was of a simple design
and not kept in proper repair. Utensils to prepare, store and
serve the stuff fresh and dry, and cheap crockery were barely
enough to meet the requirements. Costly crockery and furniture were a rare sight. The amount locked up in tools and
equipment varied from a few hundred rupees in case of small
hotels in rural areas to about two thousands in case of the urban
The capital requirements of the establishments were for fixed and working capital. Fixed capital was invested in tools and equipment and in a few cases in the hotel premises owned by the proprietors. Working capital represented the money spent towards the purchase of raw materials and buying of accessories and towards meeting the expenditure of a recurring nature including wages. The amount locked up in fixed capital was fairly limited as tools and equipment were of ordinary quality purchased with a view to keeping the business going. The dishes provided were of a cheap and common variety. Many of these establishments had a limited turnover requiring limited working capital.
Many a time, an establishment was a one man show the same person preparing and serving as also keeping accounts. This was especially so in the rural areas. Some hotels had to employ cooks and waiters to serve the customers and boys to clean tables, wash utensils, crockery, floors, etc. The number of employees in such establishment varied with its size. A cook was generally paid more, his job being a skilled one. The cook in a medium hotel in the urban areas was paid about Rs. 50 per month as against Rs. 20 to Rs. 25 paid to other workers. Besides the emoluments, the workers were given snacks and tea twice or thrice a day. In many hotels they were served with meals also. They had no guarantee of continuity of employment as also no fixed hours of work. In most of the places they had to sweat since early hours of the morning till late at night.
The menus in most of these restaurants were limited to snacks and hot and cold drinks. Those situated near a motor stand or a bazar
or a cinema house could afford to serve various types of dishes on account of
good clientele. Many people in the urban areas took food in hotels and this gave
an assured demand to those hotels which served food. However, in case of
establishments in a small village or located by the roadside the conditions were not encouraging because of the limited clientele.
The income of these establishments depended upon the total turnover as in the case of other occupations. The business was brisk during fairs or bazar days etc., while it slackened during the rainy season. The maximum and minimum net income of big establishments was found to vary between Rs. 400 and Rs. 1.000 per month. The same for the medium hotels and restaurants was placed at between Rs. 300 and Rs. 400 per month. It was found to be below Rs. 200 in case of small establishments.
The main items of expenditure for these establishments were raw materials, wages and miscellaneous items including rent. The average expenditure of big hotels in the district on raw materials was placed at Rs. 600 per month, on wages Rs. 200 per month and on miscellaneous items inclusive of rent, Rs. 125 per month giving a total of Rs. 925 per month. The figures of expenditure on the same items in respect of medium and small establishments were placed at Rs. 350, Rs. 150, Rs. 90 giving a total of Rs. 590 and Rs. 250, Rs. 120 and Rs. 60 giving a total of Rs. 430, respectively.
Thus it could be said that the establishments get a good margin of profit. However, they were not properly managed and did not reach the modern standards of decency and cleanliness. With a gradual improvement in the economic conditions of the district, the occupation is sure to make a headway in the years to come.