Sunday, January 28, 2007

Coffee, lounging and operating hours

I love the concept of bookstores here in the US. Traditionally in India you cannot linger in bookstores or restaurants. It is just the opposite here. You can linger both in restaurants and in bookstores. This afternoon for example, I was just sick of being cooped up inside my house and decided to go to Borders which is the closest bookstore to my house. I did not buy any books, I did not even browse their book aisles. I went with my own books to read, sat in the coffee lounge and read my books. No one asked me to leave or to purchase anything to stay. I did purchase a cup of hot chocolate because I felt like it, but there were several others who did not buy anything, and just lounged around reading either their own books or books they had taken off the shelves in the store. It is a beautiful concept, and I wish we had many more such stores in India.
Even in restaurants like I Hop or Denny's, you can just order a cup of coffee and stay there the whole night doing your thing and you will not be thrown out. Compare it to Indian restaurants where they kick you out as soon as you have eaten. This is true of many Indian restaurants here as well. I think its a mentality rather than a business model. Also Indian restaurants are the only ones (to the best of my knowledge) that are closed between the end of lunch service and beginning of dinner service. I wonder why they do not keep it open like all other places. Thai and Chinese places have differential rates between lunch and dinner (dinner is costlier by $2 or so). Most Indian restaurants, have a buffet lunch and made to order dinner. I wonder what economic logic lies behind keeping them closed in the late afternoon and early evening hours? There is not much wait staff during the buffet, and I guess the Chef and his assistants need to be paid anyway. They have already incurred rental costs etc. So why do they close? Especially in this country where people are willing to eat all through the day. They can continue to serve buffet till about 30 minutes before dinner service, and can display the timings appropriately.
I do not know if it makes sense for them to close during this time in India either.

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