Mumbai: For a city that reputedly never sleeps Mumbai has found it hard to shop and party till late. That’s set to change from Monday, when newly relaxed laws kick in allowing many restaurants, fast food outlets and shopping malls to remain open round the clock.

Malls and eateries in the non-residential areas of Mumbai will be allowed to stay open through the night, adding hours to Mumbai’s night life.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal to this effect. The exemption, however, will not apply to restaurants that serve alcohol, so pubs, bars and liquor shops will follow a 1.30 am deadline.

The Maharashtra government expects the move to generate jobs, drive tourism and boost the economy.

McDonald’s, the world’s biggest fast food chain, wasted no time in seizing the opportunity on Friday, announcing seven 24-hour outlets. “It will help boost business for brands and generate employment," said Saurabh Kalra, senior director for strategy and operations at Westlife Development that runs McDonald’s outlets in west and south India. “McDonald’s restaurants in many parts of the globe operate 24X7 stores and have seen significant success. We hope to replicate the same in Mumbai."

Chain restaurants Smoke House Deli and Social, run by Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, will remain open till 4am at Palladium Mall, Oberoi Mall, Phoenix Marketcity and Kamala Mills.

“We are also creating a special late-night menu," said Riyaaz Amlani, chief executive officer and managing director of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality.

Shopping malls and eatery owners welcomed the move, but said it might not trigger an overnight culture revolution.

“It may take some time because people have to start changing their habits," said Mukesh Kumar, chief executive officer of Infiniti Mall. “For now, our food courts will be open until 3 am, but only on weekends. It is easier to get people to eat rather than shop."

Phoenix Marketcity, part of Phoenix Mills Ltd, has announced plans to remain open till 5am this weekend. The mall in Kurla that hosts brands such as Marks & Spencer, Mango and Lifestyle is offering 12-5 am shopping, free parking and free drinks for women.

Most multiplex chains haven’t worked out the logistics of late-night shows, but are pleased with the option. Security in malls and proper staffing will be concerns, said Mohan Umrotkar, chief executive of Carnival Cinemas.

“With such a move the city develops an always-on kind of vibe, the kind you have in Tokyo or New York. It develops an alternative rhythm and becomes a throbbing city with a sense of activity," said Santosh Desai, chief executive and managing director of Future Brands Ltd.

Not all mall owners in Mumbai are rushing to keep their establishments open 24/7 due to concerns over additional costs, manpower and doubts about late-night footfalls. Several of them said they were yet to decide whether to keep their malls open all night.

Rajneesh Mahajan, chief executive officer of Inorbit Malls Pvt. Ltd, said the company is yet to make a decision. “We are still talking to retailers. It may take some to understand and get prepared. It is difficult to say whether we will be able to do it immediately because it takes a lot of preparation, manpower and look into other additional costs involved, “ Mahajan said.

According to Shubranshu Pani, managing director (retail services) at JLL India, while retailers are delighted that it provides them the opportunity to keep their shops open a few more hours, malls are not ready to remain open 24/7.

“Retailers are anyway struggling to get footfalls during the day and weekends. And the cost of operation of shopping centres in the evening every single hour is significantly high," Pani said. “You are targeting a fractional crowd, but you have to keep all the services long."

Such moves to open shops and eating joints would work in high streets, highly populated areas, pass-through places or even where there are call centres, he added.

Suneera Tandon and Lata Jha in New Delhi and Bidya Sapam in Mumbai contributed to this story.

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