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Bootleggers struggles for space in Bandra

High rents and obscure licensing laws make it difficult for new pubs to enter the queen of the suburbs, reports Naomi Canton.

entertainment Updated: Oct 28, 2009 20:18 IST
Naomi Canton

Ever wondered why Bandra doesn’t have enough bars and pubs? Well, now we know. Bar managers wanting to move there face a lot of problems in an attempt to get hold of a suitable property.

Sushant Kamath, partner of Bootleggers, the English-style pub in Colaba, has been trying for six months to start an identical branch in Bandra. But despite having looked at more than 20 properties in Bandra in areas like Linking Road, Pali Naka and even SV Road, so far he has found nothing.

On the one hand, he has been looking at existing restaurants and bars in Bandra but found that the ownership paperwork has not been in place, which made it impossible for him to acquire the licences required.

On other occasions, the landlords have been asking for outrageous amounts as rent, he complains. One of them wanted Rs 6.5 lakh per month for a 2,000 sq ft area. “Bars in Bandra have a turnover of five to 24 lakh per month, with most of them making profits to the tune of six to 10 lakh or even more,” he says. “So no one expects to pay such high rent. Besides, many bars have suffered this month because there were eight dry days and people prefer to go for house parties during Diwali.”

He has also looked at commercial premises, with a view to converting them but faced another set of problems there. He found a building with ample parking space, in the posh Pali Naka area — a place devoid of bars but full of rich partygoers.
He adds, “It seemed like an ideal location. The property had great charm but we discovered that there were no fire exits. We couldn’t even create one and the ownership paperwork wasn’t complete.”

So, he had to ditch that idea, even though he was convinced that most Pali Naka residents would love to have a bar in their neigbourhood. He found the ideal commercial premises at Worli, but the only hitch was that it was 150 metres away from a temple. No pub can get a liquor licence if it is situated within 150 metres of a temple, church or school.

High decibels
“The location is extremely important, what it look likes when you enter, the surrounding area and so on,” he explains.

Another problem is that Bandra is divided into the ‘conservative types’ who have their own apartments, and the partygoers who rent apartments, he reveals. “Many housing societies object to bars and clubs because of high decibels and high water consumption. They also object to the commotion caused by honking of cars and smokers gathering outside,“ he elaborates.

The new Bootleggers, if it ever comes to Bandra, will be a replica of the Colaba one, with a pool table, a jukebox and dartboards. It will serve American food and Indian snacks.