The country’s current economic situation hasn’t been kind. Buddha Bar will soon close down and rumors were swirling around about the possibility of Metropolitan shutting down too. These were later discredited. However, it seems the current situation of the country is going to add another victim to its growing list and it’s the American diner chain Fuddruckers, which opened last year.
A friend who happens to like the place had decided to visit the diner yesterday and was surprised to find it completely closed, with a ribbon in front of its main door and no parking service in sight. And you’d think seeing as November 1st is a day off for most schools in the country, the place would open in order to attract students who probably decided to go out with their friends.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if the place ended up really shutting down. Based on personal observation, business wasn’t exactly booming back when the situation in the country was better than its current state. I personally visited it once with Australian friends and wasn’t too taken by their burgers which I found to be very plain. However, we were the only people there and only three other customers came in during our one hour stay.
The question to be asked is the following: If a chain like Fuddruckers has truly shut down in Lebanon, what would that say of the much smaller businesses spread all around the country? How struggling are they currently?
And if Buddha Bar and Fuddruckers couldn’t weather down the current storm, you cannot but wonder: how thick is the bubble for the collective Lebanese population that seems to be absolutely oblivious to how horrible the economy currently is?
At the rate this is going, it won’t be long before we get another chain closing down.
Here’s yet another nail in Lebanon’s economic coffin. Buddha Bar, one of Lebanon’s trendiest go-to places, is shutting down permanently, according to the Daily Star. This will get approximately 200 employees laid off from their jobs.
The cause for Buddha Bar shutting down is non-other than the great situation the country is going through. If you haven’t been in the loop, which I doubt, here’s what it breaks down into, grosso modo.
- A very poor touristic season over the summer.
- Civil unrest that ignites at any moment.
- A seemingly camping-site friendly Downtown Beirut, which is where Buddha Bar is located. It has been turned into such a place twice in the past four years alone. They also offer discounts if you want to join them in rainy weather.
- Political leadership with absolutely no idea whatsoever on how to run things.
And things don’t seem that they’ll drastically improve anytime soon with rhetoric that keeps sinking, politicians who believe acting feisty over Twitter will bring forth change and supporters who are more than convinced that their corresponding side of the political spectrum has done absolutely nothing wrong over the past few years – or has done things that are entirely justifiable.
Meanwhile, 200 families have just lost means of support. And if Buddha Bar is closing down, what does that say about the countless other smaller businesses that are suffering in this country? How many other families will have their jobs taken away from them just because our country is always the playground of others?
We cannot really work on fixing our economy until we fix everything that’s ruining it and herein lies the problem: where do we start fixing?
I was taking my Australian cousins out to dinner today and I decided to have them try out Feniqia in Jbeil. One of my cousins, who has been visiting Lebanon more or less frequently lately, complained about the place having too much shisha and smoke. So I gleefully told her about the smoking ban and how a decent place like Feniqia was surely abiding by it.
As we neared the place, we saw a man smoking a shisha. But we was immediately next to a window so I thought that maybe that was their policy – you get to smoke if you’re close to an open window as long as you blow your fumes outside.
Then, as we had our dinner, a couple sat next to us. The guy held out his pack of Marlboro and lit a cigarette. So I told him that it’s forbidden to smoke here. He replied: really? So I told him: Yes, haven’t you heard of the new law?
He said that he was aware of the law but that he saw many people smoking shisha. So he called the restaurant manager to make sure. The manager came over and I asked him: isn’t your place abiding by the non-smoking law?
His reply? Of course and without a doubt not.
He said so with pride and left. The guy’s date ordered her shisha and she started smoking as well. So I decided to try and call the number to which you can report such incidences. After much searching, someone on twitter let me know that the number you need to call to report restaurants not abiding by the smoking law is 1214 – the hotline of the ministry of health.
I called that number 3 times. It got disconnected almost immediately. They must be sleeping – such a hot hotline, right?
As for Feniqia, I don’t expect it to follow the law anytime soon. Not even when winter rolls around and it can’t leave its windows open for aeration. And being a regular, I haven’t seen them undergo modifications of the place to bring it up to par with the regulations. And for proof’s sake, here are a few pictures.
The numbers that you need to call to report restaurants are either 112 or 1735. Call the numbers when you’re at the restaurant not the following day.
For those who are fasting and in need of food and those who are in need of good deals for dinner from July 20th to August 19th, I’ve gathered some of the Ramadan offers by select Lebanese restaurants.
1 – Crepaway
2 – Zaatar W Zeit:
3 – Deek Duke
4 – Amarres
5 – Chili’s
6 – Momo’s ($40 per person)
I should be trying the Amarres formule this coming week. If I stumble on other offers, I will update this post. Until then, Ramadan Kareem.