Karnataka pubs and bars on a high despite stringent norms | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Pubs, clubs and bars in Karnataka registered significantly better sales since September 1 following permission to serve alcohol.
The numbers were much lower than pre-Covid days because restaurants had to halve the seating capacity due to socialdistancing norms. Yet, customers have started turning up.
A week after they were allowed to offer full dine-in service, 495 of 526 pubs in Karnataka have reopened, according to data available with the Federation of Wine Merchants’ Association of Karnataka. About 90% of 3,606 licensed bars and restaurants have resumed business. Most of 1,226 hotels with lodging and 75 star hotels have started serving liquor along with food.
“The response has been on expected lines…” said additional commissioner of excise SL Rajendra Prasad.
The enthusiasm of both outlet owners and patrons is evident in gradually growing volume of sales,” Prasad added.
The recovery is evident in the jump in revenue recorded in September first week. The excise department earned Rs 643 crore through liquor sales as on Monday compared to Rs 515 crore in the same period in August when the business was restricted to takeaway sales.
Going by the first week’s sales, the excise department can expect September’s revenue to reach Rs 2,500 crore. “It will be a phenomenal jump since August’s revenue was Rs 1,830 crore and the revenue in September last year was Rs 1,750 crore,’’ said an excise official.
A lot of ground is still to be covered as allowed occupancy at outlets is just 50% and owners said they were waiting for the government’s nod to resume full seating.
For instance, the highend pub Big Pitcher, which has two outlets — on Old Airport Road with 700 seating capacity and at Sarjapur with 600 seats — is operating at 40% of capacity and footfall is low. “It’s because we are strictly enforcing social-distancing norms. We want to go with low occupancy till the situation becomes normal,” said Rajeesh Thenisseri, business head, Big Pitcher.
Never Mind Bar and Socials, a pub with 120 seats in Indiranagar, reopened on September 4 and it was full over the weekend. “People are still hesitating to come out for a drink. But the initial trend has been bullish and we hope it will improve in the coming days,” said Shylesh Jain, partner, Never Mind Bar and Socials.
Some outlets are struggling to serve all kinds of cuisines since chefs who specialise in north Indian and Chinese dishes are yet to join and a large section of staff who had gone to their hometowns are slowly coming back.

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Sagar Biswas

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