Monday, November 29, 1999

Beer, wine at food joints

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New Delhi, June 17 -- Soon, you won't need to go to bar or a pub to get a swig of your favourite beer or wine, as you can have your favourite lager beer or red wine at a food joint across the road. Relaxing its liquor-serving policy, the Delhi government will start giving out liquor licences to restaurants and eating joints to serve "lighter spirits" from next week. The liquor licence, called L-4D, will allow restaurants to serve only wine and beer at a cheaper licence fee. That means you may find your favourite brand of lager beer or red wine being served at fast food joints and pizza and burger outlets in your neighbourhood. With a large number of foreign and local tourists expected to visit Delhi during the Commonwealth Games, excise officials said the new excise policy will go well with the changing profile of the city. "We had been demanding that a new category of licence be introduced at cheaper rates, that allows restaurants to serve only beer and wine. There are a lot of eating joints that do not want to serve hard liquor but would certainly like to serve soft liquor to its customers. It is definitely a welcome development," said S.M. Shervani, secretary, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India. The state cabinet had approved the new excise policy in 2009 and it was notified in April this year. However, officials said they could formulate and finalise rules and regulations pertaining to the L-4D licence only recently. "It is an expensive licence varying between Rs 4.18 lakh to Rs 18 lakh (for bigger restaurants) for one year and many eateries could not afford it. The new L-4D licence is much cheaper, between Rs 25 lakh a year to Rs 5.5 lakh, and even small restaurants can afford it," a senior excise official said requesting anonymity. The licence will cost Rs 2.5 lakh to restaurants with seating capacity less than 50, Rs. 3.5 lakh for 50 to 100 cover restaurants, Rs. 4.5 lakh for 100-200 cover restaurants and Rs. 5.5 lakh for eateries having seating capacity of more than 200, the official added.

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