Restaurateurs applaud permission to serve liquor till 3am: ‘Delhi can now be nightlife capital’

Hotels, restaurants and clubs in the capital will be allowed to serve liquor to customers till 3 am as part of sweeping reforms governing the trade of alcohol in Delhi spelt out in the Excise Policy for 2021-22. The policy was uploaded by the Excise Department on its website Monday, following directions of the Delhi High Court in a petition by the Delhi Liquor Trader Associations demanding that the policy be made public.

The policy also allows hotels, restaurants and clubs to serve liquor in open spaces, including terraces, and play any type of music or musical instruments on the premises. Earlier, independent restaurants and bars could only engage bands for live singing or playing instruments. Now they can choose from many options to entertain clients.

The policy has also done away with the need to obtain multiple licenses prior to getting a license to open a bar. “The HCR licenses shall be issued with the mandatory requirement of Fire NOC as per the guidelines of Delhi Fire Service,” it says, adding that the HCR industry will be charged license fee based on size of their establishments, instead of seats as is done presently. The annual 10 per cent hike in license fees has also been discontinued.

Anurag Katriar, president, National Restaurant Association of India, said this is “one of the best piece of news we have received in a while.” “This is the right way to do business. It is one of the most progressive policies…” He added that it will also help the industry spring back from losses incurred due to the lockdowns. “We will continue to be Covid compliant and act responsibly… In the long run, this move will change the way Delhi parties. It might even turn Delhi into the party capital of the country.”

Zorawar Kalra, founder and director of Massive Restaurants, which includes Farzi Cafe, Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra and Pa Pa Ya, said, “This is a welcome move, commensurate with what the world’s top travel destinations already do. This will help all stakeholders. This will position our national capital into the nightlife capital of India.”