Not so Happy Hours for Pub Owners

City Topstory

Price for a liquor license has hit an all time high.

By Ayanti Bera

Bengaluru, Jan 17, 2019: If you are thinking of entering the pub business as an owner, this might not be the best time as you will have to shell out twice the amount of money to obtain a liquor license compared to a few years ago.

Russell Ashe, restaurateur and manager of the newly opened ‘Just BLR’, a restroPub on Brigade Road, says, “A CL9 license that permits the sale of only hard liquor costs up to 2 crore these days. On top of that, a license for draught beer that is RVB license would cost up to 25 to 50 lakhs more, and so will a wine license.”

The State Excise Department hasn’t issued any new liquor license in the last 27 years. Hence, there are around 3,077 licenses in total in the city, that were issued prior to 1992, and as a result, its price has shot up to outrageous levels.

After the Karnataka Government allowed all restaurants and pubs to stay open until 1 a.m. on all days in 2016, the demand for liquor licenses shot up – as a lot of new clubs entered the business.

Ramaswamy, manager at ‘Amoeba’, a resproPub on Church Street, says, “Earlier, the licenses used to be cheaper. But now, since the government has stopped issuing new licenses, people are selling the existing ones for a much higher price. Old establishments like ours’ did not have to pay such exorbitant rate earlier. For renewal charges, we pay around 8.5 lakhs per year.”

Before the boom in nightclub business in 2015, licenses would cost around 75-80 lakhs and rarely up to 1 Crore.

Suman, owner of Hoppipola, another pub on Church Street, says, “I bought the license for 2.5 crores in 2015. Earlier it used to be cheaper.”

In 2016, the Excise Department had announced that they will issue 1,750 new licenses but then they had to drop the plan fearing political backslash.

Ashe adds, “People are now selling their licenses along with their place. Since there is a crunch in licenses, people are demanding huge amounts. There is nothing we can do about this.”

Picture Credits – Russh, Church Street.

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