Pune: Going out for a drink with your friends will cost you dearly this summer. Blame it on the hike in liquor prices which will come into effect later this month. The state government has hiked the liquor licence fee by 50 per cent, taking the figure from Rs 3.83 lakh to Rs 5.40 lakh per annum.
With this hike, the liquor prices at permit rooms, liquor shops, beer bars, restaurants and pubs will cost consumers 15% extra. The news has dampened the spirits of a lot of consumers as they will now have to shell out more on ordering their favourite drink.
Restaurants and pub owners are fearing a drop in business with less footfall of customers. Rupesh Shetty, director of Apache, a popular pub in the city, feels the hike has come at a wrong time, when the IPL fever is on. "We have paid the licence fees, but haven't increased the prices on our menu yet. A price hike won't stop people from drinking, but they might make other choices like drinking at home and then come to our place or look for a place that serves cheaper. We were anticipating more people during IPL."
When dna asked Arjun Sethi, a techie and a regular at the pubs on weekends, he said that this hike is totally uncalled for. "All it means is that I won't be able to enjoy even the occasional drink without burning a hole in my pocket. Forget drinking out at pubs, I'll now have to think twice before having liquor at home as well."
For Kingshuk Ghoshal, it's just another price hike, which he is going to ignore. "We are all upset because of this hike, but like the hike in onions sometime back, we will forget about this one as well. If I love drinking, I will go and buy one," he said.
Sunil Chandani, owner of Hidden Place, Koregaon Park, also feels the same. "The cost of liquor is already very expensive in Maharashtra, and at this point it's very difficult for us to increase the prices on our bar menu. So we have decided to wait until we hear something in response to our protest."
On the other hand, Ganesh Shetty, president of Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers' Association says that the hike will encourage a lot of liquor-related illegal activities prevalent in the city. "The city has many unauthorised bars running without licence. They indulge in selling spurious quality liquor and duplicate brands to their customers at cheaper rates. We want the police to take action against such places, which are posing a threat to the lives of the consumers."
To deal with the situation some restaurants have also come up with plans to attract their customers. Deepak Bhatia, AVP of Punjab Grill restaurant plans to introduce food and wine pairing in their menu. "We will give the customers a choice of combos which will have cocktails with snacks and price it in a manner which won't sound too exorbitant to the customers. Similarly, we plan discount on beer pitchers of certain brands or an offer like customers getting a free drink on placing their order."