Visakhapatnam: They say 'cheers' with less cheer
Visakhapatnam: As bars and restaurants across the city gear up to open after a hiatus of almost six months, it did not bring much cheer to the bar owners for apparent reasons.
While the favourite brand is far from reach for the tipplers, an additional 20 per cent Covid-19 fee levied and 10 per cent rise in licence fee come as a big disappointment to the bar operators who are under severe financial stress. Already, the bar operators have incurred heavy losses in the form of rentals, staff salaries and maintenance costs.
A few months before, licences to all bars were cancelled as a part of the new State government policy. As a result, lakhs of stock remained unsold, leading to a great amount of loss to the bar owners. "There will not be any profit even if we recommence the business. Unless we charge a higher price than the brands sold in the wine shops, it will be difficult for us to survive. Even if we have an exclusive collection of liquor menu, drawing the attention of the customers will be a challenging task," says G Kamesh, a bar owner.
Since there is an opportunity to exhaust the unsold stock left before the cancellation of licences, many bar operators are evincing keen interest in renewing their licence. "However, except those who got used to the cash flow and the ones who are largely dependent on this business, not many could pull it off in the field. Given the pandemic situation, we are not pinning any hopes to limp back to normalcy in near future. Sanitising twice a day, washing the utensils in hot water, maintaining Covid-19 protocols among the staff will be an additional burden to us," rues Behara Bhaskar Rao, another bar owner.
With liquor being sold comparatively at a low price in neighbouring States, tipplers are also sourcing them in multiple ways. This is also likely to impact the business in bars and restaurants. The situation is, however, in contrast when it comes to APTDC-run bars and restaurants as the business is gradually picking up amid revised liquor rates and strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
There are close to 138 bars and restaurants in Visakhapatnam. With the process of licence renewal coming to a close, most bar operators are planning to keep their doors open from Tuesday or a few days later.