Diners get less to chew - UAE INFO

Jan 21, 2009

Diners get less to chew

Dubai/Sharjah: Majority of cafeterias and eateries in Dubai and Sharjah have cut down on the quantity of food served in a desperate attempt to offset rising cost of food supplies.Gulf News visited some of these places and learnt from the people running these establishments that they had also witnessed a fall in demand in recent times. These cafeterias usually serve Asian and Arabic food and are largely frequented by middle-income group people and blue collar workers.
According to some of the customers, the difference in the quantity of food served is more apparent during lunch and dinner. "Times are very bad and could get even worse. Prices have also been on the rise over the last three months. For example, we used to buy 5 kilos of fresh Sardines for Dh20. Now, the same amount of fish costs Dh30. Instead of charging an extra dirham from the customers, we opted to reduce the portions.
Customers who frequent our cafeterias are bachelors from the middle and low-income groups," said Mustafa P.K., a cafeteria owner in Al Karama. According to him, a non-vegetarian lunch earlier comprised rice, fish or chicken curry, a big scoop of yoghurt, pappadom and a piece of fried chicken or fish. "Now, the lunch is served minus the fried chicken or fish, with only a tablespoon of yoghurt and a small portion of rice. All this comes for Dh12," added Mustafa. Ditto for Sami Mahmoud who is now using glasses that are smaller than the regular ones to serve fresh juice at his Deira cafeteria. He explained: "These are difficult times and one ought to be careful. I would like to offer a generous spread to my customers, but what to do? Now when the salad plate is to be served, I have asked my staff to be very careful [read stringent] with quantity. "When we serve chicken burger, we apply a thin coating of mayonnaise on the bun. The burger comes with a small portion of fries, minus the salad, but if the customer insists, we provide him with a small leaf of lettuce. All that for Dh6.50.
The customers understand the problem. Some have left, while others continue to enjoy their meal." Meanwhile, customers do not have an option as they simply cannot afford expensive restaurants. Mani Pillai, who lives in a shared accommodation in the Al Taa'wun area of Sharjah after having sent his family back home to India, does not know how to cook and so he depends on the cafeterias. He said: "It's a catch-22 situation for both the customers as well as the cafeteria owners," he said.

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