The benefits of the steep drop in alcohol prices will not immediately be passed on to diners, Kolkata restaurateurs said.
Any reduction in the prices of alcohol served in bars will occur after the “old stocks” – bought at a higher price are exhausted.
Most people The telegraph spoke to said a rate cut was likely around Christmas.
âThe existing stock was bought at the old rate. It should last until the second week of December. After that, we would certainly pass the benefits of the price reduction on to our customers, âsaid Anjan Chatterjee, a veteran restaurateur who has more than a dozen outlets in the city that serve alcohol.
âThe excise service has just announced the drop in prices. Over the next few days, we’ll be doing the specific calculations. There are several ways to extend the benefits to diners – cheaper drinks or 1: 1 offers on certain brands in the cocktail menu, âsaid Chatterjee, owner of Mainland China, Oh! Calcutta, Riyasat and Hoppipola.
Rajiv Kothari, owner of Bar-BQ on Park Street, also said existing shares bought at a higher price would last “three to four weeks.”
âAt the end of the day, we would certainly pass the benefit on to customers, but we can’t do it immediately,â he said.
The prices of several brands of alcohol have fallen to multi-year lows in Bengal, following tax adjustments made by the state government. Based on the preliminary figures, the effect of the drop will be more on the original bottled brands (BIO). For example, a 750ml bottle of Chivas Regal blended scotch will cost Rs 3,500 under the new arrangements, up from Rs 5,400.
A 30ml peg of Chivas Regal now costs around Rs 500 in a pub in South Calcutta. After the possible drop, it would cost just under Rs 450, the owner said.
Old stocks would have run out faster without the overnight curbs, several restaurateurs said.
On paper, restaurants can operate until 11 p.m., when the nighttime curfew comes into effect. But most restaurants close at 10:30 p.m. to give diners plenty of time to get home.
âThe 9pm to midnight time slot was the busiest for bars before the pandemic. We hope the government allows some relaxation on the sidewalks at night, âsaid the owner of a central Kolkata bar.
Restaurant owners are aware that unchanged prices can affect attendance. But selling alcohol from existing stock at reduced prices would result in a larger loss. âWe have suffered a lot during the pandemic. Under-selling no longer makes sense. By Christmas, the new stocks will arrive and we hope for a high attendance, âsaid Gaurav Karnani, owner of Grid, a restaurant-bar in Topsia.