Photo: Culture Trips

All restaurants to be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks tentatively from 1 June

According to the Minister of Economic Affairs Loknath Sharma, all restaurants (both new and existing ones) will be allowed to sell alcoholic drinks, and function both as a bar and a restaurant tentatively with effect from 1 June 2022.

The Lyonpo said, “After so many debates and deliberations, I am of the opinion, after a final relook, that from 1 June onwards the term ‘bar’ will be ceased to be used in identifying all establishments selling alcoholic beverages. Instead these business entities will be called ‘restaurants, irrespective of whether they decide to sell alcohol or not, alongside the usual menu of meals.  This is because all bars sell at least some kind of food items that are sold as snacks to go alongside the drinks, and nobody just orders drinks alone, they need something to eat (like fast foods and changpa) alongside the drinks.”

The Lyonpo continued, “As you might have noticed, we come across many establishments calling themselves ‘restaurants cum bar’, ‘general shops cum bar’, etc. That ‘cum’ word doesn’t sound very pleasant. So from the 1 June onwards, we are planning to completely omit the use of the word ‘bar’, instead all restaurants will be automatically allowed to sell both the usual meals and alcoholic drinks without having to obtain a separate bar license.”

There is no need to pay additional fees in obtaining two licenses, as the restaurant license will now function a bar license too. Restaurant owners also do not have to worry about getting their licenses cancelled upon failure to renew the bar license like in the earlier times.

People wishing to sell alcoholic drinks should obtain a restaurant license and not a ‘bar’ license. 

All existing restaurants will have the option to sell alcoholic beverages whenever they please.

The Lyonpo further said, “For example, if I have a restaurant, whether I want to sell alcohol or not, it’s totally up to me. There is no need to obtain different permission or license to sell drinks anymore. Our new policies dictate that establishments selling alcoholic drinks will be categorized as ‘restaurant’.

However, tea and coffee shops shall fall under different category. This arrangement makes it easier and convenient for not only the establishments wishing to sell alcoholic beverages, but also for us officials.”

This new decision is meant to address the rampant problem of illegal sale of alcohol, fronting, and unethical license trade and operation of numerous illegal bars that has been happening ever since the ban on issuance of bar license back in 2010.

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