The Maharashtra State Excise Department vide a Government Resolution has granted permission to star rated hotels in the state to serve liquor in their open air terrace restaurants, which until now could serve only food. The permission will be granted only to those hotels that have obtained an NOC from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and from the Fire Department for statutory compliances. The GR also allows hotels to apply for a single composite licence covering all its restaurants, lounges and cafes making the process of applying for liquor licence simpler. The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has welcomed the move and has indicated that it will continue holding dialogues with the government for making the same applicable to restaurants too.
Mumbai is one of the biggest business and tourist hubs in the country for both domestic and international tourists. Mumbai is also a preferred destination for many international visitors as a tourist gateway for travelling to various places in India.
“The association has been liasioning with the various departments of state for over a decade on this subject. We wish to thank the state government, the excise ministry and are especially grateful to Valsa Nair Singh, principal secretary of the state excise department for considering our suggestions. While this is applicable only for star rated hotels as of now, we would be interacting with the department to include non-starred hotels and standalone restaurants also. Classification and star rating by the government is to be used as a guideline, to be followed by the industry and is not a rule, therefore we shall be requesting the department to de-link the benefits to be derived through policies from classification and star ratings. The rooftop wine and dine culture is widely popular across all the major tourist destinations and global cities of the world. We can now offer our guests from abroad the option to wine and dine in an open to sky ambience which many of them prefer. Of course, our own Mumbaikars too can now experience the pleasure of this kind of a diner set-up,” said Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, president, HRAWI.
The permission granted by the state government to serve liquor at rooftop restaurants in a hotel is now approved by the BMC. As per the BMC’s policy, only if the entire structure is a star hotel by itself, can they serve liquor in their rooftop restaurant but the same should be applicable for stand-alone restaurants as well, if they have a restaurant with a kitchen below their terrace. This permission to serve alcohol therefore should be given to any hotel or restaurant, irrespective of their star category and having a restaurant and a kitchen below their terrace in their building.
“The decision to combine all the restaurant licences into one, simply eases the process. Under the composite licence, hotels will continue to pay the stipulated fees for each of its F&B outlets, but the permissions will be clubbed into one single licence. While both decisions are great and will benefit hotels, we were also hopeful that the Government would include stand-alone restaurants for offering alcohol to their guests on their rooftops. We will continue to engage with the authorities on this front, as well as request them to consider granting permission to all hotels and restaurants and not just the star rated ones to serve liquor on their rooftops,” says Kamlesh Barot, past president, HRAWI.
“Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and a global city. Its practices should be in sync with the cities of the world to maintain its image and charm in the eyes of tourists visiting from different places of the world. This move will send out the right kind of message to international tourists and will definitely boost tourism,” concludes Kohli.