Bengaluru sees 50% increase in pubs in four years

‘Pub capital’: At 406, Bengaluru has the maximum number of pubs in any city in Karnataka.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

In an indicator of why Bengaluru is called the ‘pub capital’ of the country, the city has seen a big jump in the number of RVB (retail vend of beer) licences — which permit establishments to run as pubs — issued over the last four years. As against 269 pubs in 2014, the city now has 406, accounting for a 50.9% increase in four years.

This is also the the maximum number of pubs in any city in the State. According to Excise Department data, as on June 30, 2018, there were 459 pubs in the State, with Mangaluru division having the second highest of 26 pubs and Mysuru division 19.

At 158, Bengaluru East division accounts for the highest number of pubs in the city, followed by 142 in Bengaluru South, and 53 each in west and north divisions.

Two prominent reasons

Those in the industry said there were two prominent reasons for this upward trend: an increasing popularity of draught/tap beer, which only establishments that have a pub licence can sell, and an ambience appealing to the youth that the city pubs provide.

Bengaluru sees 50% increase in pubs in four years

The department stopped issuing new licences to independent pubs at least five years ago. Among the 406 pubs in Bengaluru, only 60 are independent pubs, while the rest are attached to other licences, mostly bar and restaurants.

What does this mean? Ashish Kothare, former head of the Bengaluru chapter of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said, “There are several establishments with a licence to run as bar and restaurant (CL-9 licence) which were finding it difficult to sustain, especially local bars in the erstwhile rural areas around Bengaluru that have now assimilated into the urban space with the expansion of the city. Such establishments have now expanded their services by taking an additional pub licence (RVB licence). There have also been instances where some rural establishments have either sold or transferred their licences into the city space.”

These places which are technically pubs, he said, now position themselves as a lounge or bar and kitchen.

“The tap beer trend pioneered by Bengaluru is gaining popularity, with more brands available. The more variety there is, the more people want to offer it out of their establishments and hence they go for the RVB licence,” said Manu Chandra, head of the Bengaluru Chapter of the NRAI. He added that the increase in the expanse of Bengaluru has created the need for more RVB licences in areas that were earlier not known for dining or hanging out.

Meghna Vakada, owner and partner at Barley and Grapes Cafe, said there has been an increase in popularity of draught beer. While four years ago they used to sell an average of 17 kegs a month, this has now gone up to 32 kegs. Each keg contains 50 litres of beer. “If there is draught beer available, people go for that first,” she said.

Not everyone is in high spirits

The flip side of this growth story has been of illegal establishments — those without the required licence or permission — riling local residents and civic groups.

Raj Kumar Pillai from the Indiranagar 2nd Stage Residents’ Welfare Association said their fight had been against illegal establishments that operate without occupancy certificates or permits from the Fire Services Department, thereby avoiding accountability. “There are several pubs and bars which are operating without the requisite permits. The authorities need to put a check on such places.”

Recently, the city Police Commissioner served notices to at least 30 pubs in Indiranagar for playing music and conducting live bands without permits in accordance with Licensing and Controlling of Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order 2005.

Bengaluru Urban tops State in liquor consumption

Not only does the city have the highest number of pubs in Karnataka, Bengaluru Urban also tops the State in terms of consumption of liquor.

Last year, Bengaluru accounted for the sale of 1.23 crore cartons (each carton contains 48 bottles) of Indian Made Liquor (IML) and 94.95 lakh cartons of bottled beer, according to Excise Department officials. This means Bengaluru accounted for 21.9% of the total liquor consumption — or the highest for any city — in the State.

In 2017–18, Bengaluru South division saw the maximum sale of IML, at 37.4 lakh cartons, followed by 30.25 lakh in north division, 29.33 lakh cartons in west, and 26.98 lakh cartons in east division. As far as bottled beer is concerned, Bengaluru South consumed 30.6 lakh cartons, followed by 24.26 lakh cartons in east, 20.03 lakh cartons in west, and 19.97 lakh cartons in north division.

A senior department official said, “The floating population of the city and the expanse of the city in general are the reasons for higher alcohol consumption here.”

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 6:43:02 AM |

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