The BMC eased the strict guidelines imposed on restaurants and bars by allowing them to operate till 11:30 pm. Restaurants across the city have had a difficult time coping with the rules for reopening, but this news comes as a relief to restaurant owners, as well as hungry and thirsty Mumbaikars, especially the thirsty one’s. Mumbai’s eateries are now serving alcohol, but some are not doing as well as others in that department.
In Colaba, two of the city’s most popular cafes, Leopold and Mondegar have reopened for business, but Mondegar is the only one that is serving alcohol. While both are welcoming customers to fill out the limited capacity of 33%, Leopold has not yet opened its bar to customers according to Rohit Singh, an employee. Siddhant Rayan, the manager at Mondegar says, “We have begun serving beer and wine, and we have never served hard liquor.” The eatery that could fit a maximum of 145 beer lovers is now able to seat less than 50% of its full capacity.
The manager of Chetana, a vegetarian restaurant in Fort, Anil Pawar informed us that the eatery is only serving local brands of alcohol. He says, “We aren’t serving beer, only hard drinks that belong to local brands.” This is a direct effect of the embargo on alcohol sales. Restaurant owners were also told to pay 50% of the liquor license fees by the end of September, and the remaining half is to be paid by the end of this year. Sonal Arun Bagal, the marketing manager for The Little Easy describes the difficulties of purchasing alcohol from suppliers, “Our licenses had gone in the embargo and we had to pay the 50% clearance fees if we wanted to serve alcohol. The supply of alcohol was also a very long procedure as suppliers demanded full payment for any purchase instead of an advance payment.” These resulted in The Little Easy not being able to offer its usual range of liquor.
While some eateries reel from the procedures to procure alcohol, some are doing better than the others. WTF! in Aram Nagar is one of those places. Owner Prashant Pallak has not had any issues with the supply of alcohol. He says, “Hard liquor like whiskey aren’t perishable like beer. The beer companies have a policy that requires them to take the beer back if it isn’t consumed, and they decide whether do dump it or no.” Leaping Windows, in Versova have their own brewery and their craft beer sales are always very high. The manager Cercil Rodrigues says, “We have decided to open the full bar to customers as now we have social distancing rules in place that make it safer to consume alcohol.” Siddhant Sahu, manager of The Daily Bar in Bandra also has no complains against the supply of alcohol, which the crucial drawing factor for his eatery.
Speaking of the norms of social distancing, the issues of unruly or drunk customers is a potential risk to staff as well as other customers in these hostile times. Satish Kumar, the general manager at Versova Social has made clear rules to not overserve customers. He says, “If we notice that a customer is over-drinking and could pose a threat to other customers and the staff, we would first give a verbal warning to maintain the decorum of the restaurant. If he refuses to cooperate, we will not hesitate to make the person leave.” At The Little Easy, customers are instructed to keep their face masks on at all times they aren’t seated at their table. This includes visits to the washroom. At Leaping Windows, the staff has placed books from its library on tables that are not to be occupied.