Kolkata: Early liquor ban mounts losses on clubs, bars | Kolkata News

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KOLKATA: The snipping of campaign period by the Election Commission (EC) extended the dry hours in Kolkata by almost a day, leaving tipplers with little time to replenish their stock. Instead of 4pm on Friday, liquor ban came into effect at 10pm on Thursday, forcing restaurants, pubs and clubs to stop serving alcohol earlier than the usual closing time. While restaurants recorded a sharp drop in liquor sale, clubs, too, wore a deserted look on the eve of the election-induced dry period.
“We were asked to remove alcohol from tables by 10pm and immediately asked our member restaurants to comply. It was disappointing since the weekend had already been declared dry and Thursday evening would have seen a surge in liquor sale. But since we had to take our last orders by 9.15pm, few walked in. Liquor sale dropped by 60% across Kolkata’s pubs,” said Hotel and Restaurants’ Association of Eastern India (HRAEI) Sudesh Poddar. There are 160 restaurant-cum-bars in Kolkata.

Clubs, too, suffered losses as members called off their evening drinking sessions. The prominent ones chose to shut their bars by 10pm on Thursday and stopped taking orders at 9pm. “The crowd remained thin throughout the evening and the few who walked in didn’t seem interested in ordering drinks. Our liquor orders came down to just 10% of what we have on a weekday evening,” said Calcutta Rowing Club secretary Chandan Roychoudhury. The club stopped serving liquor at 9pm. All the club bars will remain closed from Friday to Sunday.
Tollygunge Club stopped serving liquor by 9pm on Thursday. CEO Anil Mukerji apprehended a dip in food orders, too, over the next three days. “Thursday evening was dull and it will remain so till Sunday. But it was not just because liquor had to be withdrawn early. There’s political tension and the mood is not very upbeat. Our members don’t visit the club merely to drink but to relax and enjoy with their families,” said Mukerji. Dalhousie Institute president Joyjeet Biswas said the club went by the EC directive and closed the bars by 9.15pm.
According to the state excise department, four phases of polls in April led to a 10%-12% drop in revenue. An excise official said that though a section of tipplers may have stocked alcohol for the dry period, bars and restaurants will see a drop in footfall and sales.
All temporary bar licences have been cancelled for the time being. There will be vigil to check entry of liqour from Howrah to Kolkata. Since polls are being held in Dum Dum, neighbouring areas like Barrackpore and Bongaon, too, will be under vigil to check liquor entry.

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