Explaining the changes introduced this year, officials from the department said that now on the applications of those interested in setting up a bar will be scrutinised by the district-level bar committee presided over by the district magistrate. It will then be sent to the excise commissioner for approval.
Earlier, the divisional commissioner forwarded the verified application to the excise commissioner, who then sought approval of the state government before allowing the bar to be set up.
Besides cutting down the steps in the bureaucracy ladder, parking norms to open a watering hole have also been relaxed. Instead of having a dedicated parking area in their vicinity, any place that has a public or private parking facility within 500 metres can be considered to set up a bar. While commercial complexes with ample parking space were preferred for setting up of resto-bars, now onwards, standalone bars can come up in complexes that lack parking space if an alternative arrangement is available.
“It is a welcome step for entrepreneurs interested in the liquor business. Several times, people are forced to pay steep rents since large commercial complexes charge a lot of money. Concept of neighbourhood bars and pubs will catch up with this relaxation,” said Nitin Srivastava, a Greater Noida-based businessman who runs a bar in Vaishali due to cheaper rent.
To serve hard drinks or beer in a pub, restaurant or bar, an individual has to obtain FL-7 license from the excise department after paying Rs 10 lakh. Clubs and starred hotels have a different fee structure with license fees extending from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 25 lakh as per the number of members and rooms.
Noida and Greater Noida together had 93 watering hole before the pandemic outbreak. However, 13 of them decided to shut shop instead of renewing their licenses. Officials hope to have more than 90 operational watering holes across the city once again with the eased norms in place.
“We were initially worried about the decreasing number of bars in the city. However, we have started getting queries now. Two new players have already entered into the business while applications of four others will be reviewed in the coming weeks,” said excise officer of GB Nagar, RB Singh.
Notably, it will be mandatory to have a seating capacity of 40 in at least 2,000 sqm of plinth area to open a new bar. “This condition will be applicable only for fresh applications. Those renewing the license can operate within the same premises,” added Singh. The condition of having a minimum covered area and seating capacity has been stipulated for the first time.