Good news for Bandra’s night owls. The state government has not closed down two of the city’s most popular bars permanently. Bonobo and Escobar in Bandra remain temporarily closed while awaiting a traffic licence.
Shilpa Shetty’s nightclub, Royalty, on Waterfield Road is also waiting for its licences. But other bars in the area are concerned that they too, may soon be targeted by a group of residents who recently launched a campaign to close some bars and clubs in Bandra and Khar, or have them shifted to the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Bandra East — a suggestion ridiculed by the bar owners.
These residents, who live on Waterfield Road and 27th Road, are represented by the Khar Residents’ Association, H West Ward Citizens’ Trust and Advanced Locality Management. Spokespeople for the three bars, that remain closed, refused to comment, but we spoke to four bar and restaurant owners, in the vicinity, to get their views.
Elbo Room, Khar
Owner Ravi Sharma says, “It costs about Rs 1.5 crore to start a bar. Bonobo and Escobar have already been closed for about two months. It must have caused them a huge loss.” He adds that it would be impractical to shift the bars to BKC. “There are so many restaurants in Bandra, apart from bars. Are you going to shift them all?” he asks. “If you live in Mumbai, get used to the fact that bars are open every day.”
According to him, bars attract expats to Bandra. “They are also important for Mumbai’s economy. The noise, traffic and proximity to schools and religious places would have been taken into account when these bars were given licences,” he finishes.
Café Goa, Bandra
Owner Carl Sequeira says, “It’s very easy to say, let’s shift all the bars to BKC, but we have fixed leases with landlords, we have rent to pay, and would have to apply for the licences all over again. I understand the residents’ point of view, but they also have to look at it from our perspective.”
One Above On Toes, Bandra
Director Damodar Bindal says, “Even we’ve received a notice threatening to revoke a licence, claiming we were not maintaining law and order and we will respond to it. From our side, there is no nuisance as we have a family crowd. We are being unfairly targeted.” According to him, the residents are going to the authorities without talking out issues with the bar owners. “Bandra was a happening spot, but is close to dying now. It’s stupid to ask bars to move to BKC,” he says.
The den, bandra Owner Gaurish Rangnekar explains, “The residents have been exaggerating. There is some honking and overcrowding on the streets, but apart from that, I don’t think they are causing any problems.” He feels that Bandra’s nightlife may get ruined even though the bars contribute a lot of money to central excise.