(Photo courtesy of Tony Deeb).
De Prague, a landmark bar and restaurant in the Ras Beirut neighborhood of Hamra which was set to close down on Thursday, will now remain open after a huge rally of support from loyal customers and staff.
On Wednesday, after a four-hour long meeting at the restaurant, more than 70 people turned up at owner Raed Habib's home in a final push to get him to change his mind about closing De Prague. The effort worked.
Habib told Beirut.com in response to the decision: "If the new trend is extending [a reference to parliament's decision last month to extend its term into 2014], then let's do it."
"What can you do when someone tells you his girlfriend has been crying for three nights in a row because De Prague is closing? I'll just give it another shot to make sure I try all I can."
On Wednesday, Habib told reporters his decision to close down the restaurant came down to money: De Prague simply hasn't been making enough to stay afloat. Contributing factors include the shift in customer attention to other area hotspots, as well as the ban on smoking indoors and a general economic downturn - across the board - in Lebanon. While there are no recent statistics available, a report in Lebanon's Executive Magazine in December said food and beverage sector representatives estimated in 2012 their losses in revenue to be around 30 percent when compared to 2011.
Businesses in Beirut rely heavily on the hospitality and tourism sectors, which have faced sharp declines over the last two years due to the ongoing instability created by the conflict in neighboring Syria.
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