Sunday, December 9, 2007

Business of Ramadan

“This is by far the worst Ramadan we ever went through, in terms of business of course”, (name) said.

Even though the holy month of Ramadan affects and helps revitalize Cairo’s social life, it doesn’t necessarily help it economically. Some food service businesses’ daily consumption deteriorates during Ramadan.

“According to the studies that the restaurant does, what caused this inactivity this year in Ramadan is the fact that Ramadan and the beginning of the school year started at the same time; the first month of school is usually a busy time for us”, said (name), Manager of Bon Appetite.

In Bon Appetite, the busiest time of the day during Ramadan is only Iftar time. 90% of costumers that come before Iftar are international students most probably studying at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

But during the rest of the year, the restaurant is active from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. everyday non-stop.

To compensate their loss in Ramadan, Bon Appetite tries its best to attract people to come have Iftar at their place. Consequently, a set menu is made offering complete meals that has all the things one would need during Iftar (including water and dates), each with a specific price.

The busiest time of the year in general is exam times because it’s when the majority of the students stay at university studying for several hours.

“70% of our consumers are students because of the American University being so close to us but people who generally dine in restaurants in downtown are of older ages because restaurants has calmer atmospheres”, (name) said.

Similarly, café Cilantro which is also a place right beside AUC, experiences the same thing. Fewer people come to Cilantro in Ramadan in comparison to the rest of the year.

“A lot of people come after Iftar but they are usually too full to eat so they end up only ordering drinks and this of course effects us”, (name), Manager of Cilantro said.

Cilantro is a bit inactive during Ramadan. However it is better than last year. This is because Cilantro is more popular as a place than last year. The place gets more popular year by year. Cilantro now has consumers from the age of 20 to 40.

“Cilantro presents no special offers in Ramadan or on any other times or occasions, because we have fixed items that don’t change and this is how Cilantro works”, (name) said.

Cilantro attracts a lot of people because of its strategic place beside AUC and a number of schools. Cilantro has a total of 80% Egyptian consumers and 20% foreigners.

However, (name), a 21 year old AUC student says, “I think that the places around university are pretty inactive in Ramadan because there are a lot of places that take the attention from them”. He explains, “People prefer to have Iftar in a place with a nice view like the Nile and go to Ramadan tents at nights because it has music and offers something different. In addition, some people spend their post-Iftar time praying and don’t go out at all”.

Ramadan in Cairo is most known for its pre-dusk chaos on the streets that- once the break fast starts- is quickly replaced by a feeling of tranquility and peace as people are in their homes eating with their families. It’s certainly the quietest and calmest period anyone will experience in loud Cairo. However, it certainly isn’t the best time of year for Cilantro and Bon Appetite’s business.

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