Mumbai’s nightlife may have recently suffered a big blow, and Delhi’s just started to look up, but it’s Chennai that has emerged the silent winner on the scene. A new law introduced in Chennai and other major cities of Tamil Nadu, including Madurai and Tiruchy will now allow liquor to flow round the clock in five star hotels there.
Back home in Delhi, people applaud the move, and say it’s regressive to leave them high and dry after midnight. “If people in Chennai can party round the clock, why do Delhi bars have to shut doors after midnight?” asks designer Kapil Arora.
Hoteliers in the city crib that Delhi can’t pump up its night life because a special licence is needed to be able to serve liquor post midnight, the cost of procuring which is very high at Rs 30 lakh, say excise experts. However, Chennai is ready to shell out more with their licence fee being Rs 32 lakh, they say. “Liquor is served round the clock internationally, and hotels do not have to buy any special licence for that. Guests find it strange when we tell them that despite being a leading hotel, we cannot take orders after midnight. For foreign travellers and expats too, it’s upsetting not to be able to order a drink after 12am,” says Oliver Martin, general manager, The Claridges.
Talking about the high price of this special licence, Nitin Sharma, director, F&B, Crowne Plaza, says, “The exorbitant amount of money a hotel needs to cough up for this licence is a big deterrent. Serving liquor 24 hours is a service to consumers, so why should we even be charged a special licencing fee for it?”
What’s the dampner?
While most five star bars in Delhi close down at 12am, some have licences allowing them to serve liquor till 1am. A handful of bars that do have the 24-hour licence have to shell out an exorbitant fee. “While Delhi was the first city to come up with the concept of the 24-hour liquor licence, it did not take off because of the high fee,” says liquor expert Sandeep Arora, adding, “The amount one is required to pay to procure this licence deters hotels from buying them. If the government really wants to improve Delhi’s nightlife, it should scrap this fee.”
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