Kabul Restaurants Are Facing Bankruptcy
A restaurant at a quiet crossroads and in an old building spend unpleasant days. “We have invested about $150,000, but it has been more than a month now that our income has dropped by 80 to 90 percent,” the restaurant’s manager told 8 Subh. Khalifa Ewaz Restaurant was established 15 years ago in the west of Kabul.
“The regime change has had a very negatively dramatic effect on our work, electricity is a waste for us, rent is a ransom, and we have no hope for a good future,” Obaidullah Ahmadiar Bayat, the restaurant’s manager, added. The restaurant currently has 13 employees.
The manager of the restaurant says they have reduced the salaries of their employees by half. Bayat says he sees a dark future for his business and it is difficult to continue working in a restaurant.
According to him, there is no one to redress their grievances and support them in these difficult times. Before the Taliban took control of Kabul, Khalifa Ewaz Restaurant, in addition to its regular customers, also received orders but is now almost bankrupt. The manager of Khalifa Ewaz restaurant says that at the moment he cannot even manage the rent of his restaurant.
Khalifa Ewaz is one of the dozens or hundreds of restaurants in Kabul whose income is so low these days that they can barely pay for the rents and salaries of their staff. Obaidullah Ahmadiar Bayat says that he used to buy a carton of chickens for 2,000 Afghanis, but now he buys it for 2,250 Afghanis.
Khalifa Ewaz, however, has kept the price of its food constant so as not to lose its remaining customers. “We buy the necessities at a high price, if we raise prices, we lose the few customers we have, we try to lower the price of our food so that our customers continue buying food,” Bayat says.
Ehsanullah, a resident of Kabul, has already been to a restaurant with his friends at least four times a month for food and entertainment. He says that with the Taliban took control of Kabul, he has not visited a restaurant.
“We used to have a livelihood, we had hope for the future, we used to hang out with friends and tell stories, some of my friends left the country, some scrambling to survive the difficulties, and I was staying home from morning till night since August 15. I am tired of this situation,” Ehsanullah states.
Ehsanullah has some money in the bank, but he has not been able to withdraw yet. “I can’t provide everything I need at home and I tell my family that my money is stuck in the bank and I don’t have much money in the bank,” he says.
Banks have already resumed operations in Kabul, but the distribution of money to customers is limited. The central bank of Afghanistan, in coordination with the Union of Banks, said that holders of individual accounts would not be paid more than $200 a week, equivalent to 20,000 Afghanis. This situation has led to long queues behind bank offices. Banks in the provinces have not yet started operating. Residents of the provinces are also facing serious problems due to the closure of banks.
However, the central bank has announced that the banks will soon resume their operations.
“I Do Not Know Whether to Continue or Not”
In the morning and evening, the smoke of its grilled butter made the Sham Restaurant difficult for passengers to pass. Now there is no sign of crowds and grilled smoke. Restaurant staff these days light only a few weak fires on the stove. There was not a single customer in the restaurant. Zakiullah, the manager of Sham Restaurant in the 10th district of Kabul, says that his customers have decreased a lot compared to a month ago.
Zakiullah has been running a restaurant in Kabul for ten years. He says that with the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, its revenues have dropped by 50 percent.
“Before Kabul fell to the Taliban, we did very well, but now our customers are reduced, we do not know what will happen,” says Zakiaullah.
Zakiullah has lost most of his customers who used to order food. “There were more private offices in the areas where we deliver food, but now they are closed and have no orders,” he says. According to Zakiullah, one of these offices received 40 meals a day, but it is now closed.
This is the first time in the last ten years that Zakiullah is facing bankruptcy. He does not know whether he will continue his work or not, but he is happy that “a number of government employees have not been paid for six months, it is good that we have the minimum income.”
Zakiullah is waiting for the situation to be clarified in order to continue working. It should be noted that these are not the only restaurants that have declined in recent months, but the income of most people who have made small and large investments has also dropped significantly.