BENGALURU: After allowing the opening of retail liquor stores from May 4, the State Government has allowed all pubs, bars, clubs, board and lodging facilities and Metro Cash & Carry stores to clear their stocks for takeaways on Maximum Retail Price (MRP) only between May 9 and May 17. Wine boutiques can reopen as well for parcel sales. In an order issued on Friday by the Excise Commissioner, pubs and bars (CL9 licence), clubs (CL4), board and lodging (CL7) and Metro stores have been asked to make use of the nine-day window to clear their alcohol stocks only for parcels on MRP.
These outlets have not been allowed to lift fresh stocks from the Karnataka State Beverages Corporation Limited. The order does not also address the fate of thousands of litres of keg beer, bought in bulk by all watering holes much ahead of the lockdown, and will now have to be destroyed because of the time-lapse and high temperatures. There has, however, been a mixed response to the government order by the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry. Some of its members have welcomed the move.
Govt order like a double-edged sword, say pub owners
“This is positive step towards getting some financial liquidity for the sector and also the permission to sell food online during the said period,” said Amit Roy of ‘Watsons’, a popular chain of pubs, and Anirudh Kheny of ‘1Q1’, a casual dining and bar. They said the F&B industry had requested the government to allow them to start online food delivery business, but because of their liquor licence, there was an issue. “We had bought keg beer in bulk much ahead of March 30 because there was an incentive from the beer manufacturers to pick up more stocks before the price revision from April 1.
A small pub will normally stock minimum five to six kegs and a bigger place would stock up 20 to 30 kegs. Each keg is around Rs 6,000. What do we do with those stocks?” asked Amit. He added, “The government order is like a doubleedged sword. It has given us an opportunity to get some cash flow and access to our places to take stock and get some online food delivery orders, but there are so many other costs involved.” The owner of a lounge bar said, “Beer has expiry date. I would rather distribute the beer amongst friends than open the place for such a short window. It is not cost-effective.”