Pubs, lounges in Hyderabad look towards govt to beat dry | Live Newspaper Hyderabad

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HYDERABAD: Forced to pull their shutters down within a week of paying their license fee — highest in India — pub owners from the city fear that the industry might not be able to revive if this lockdown continues. In fact, with speculation rife over night clubs and lounges remaining shut for a long time this year too, many have already started downsizing and negotiating rents, hoping to stay afloat.
Hyderabad has roughly 1,000 bars and lounges that pay an annual license fee of Rs 40 lakh to Rs 56 lakh, which is at least Rs 20 lakh more than any other metro city. While this year, given the six-month-shutdown in 2020, they were given some discount, majority of the pubs had to cough up between Rs 22 and Rs 30 lakh. Add to that are rents — ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh (depending on size) — and overhead costs which add up to another Rs 35 lakh to Rs 40 lakh, on an average.
“The situation is quite bad on ground. Though most of us managed to sail through 2020 — of course with much difficulty — not many will be able to withstand this blow. We are certain to see a large number of establishments shut shop permanently,” said Ayush Agarwal, co-founder of Air Live, Jubilee Hills, that was expected to start its second space in Gachibowli last November. “We have shelved that indefinitely,” he said, urging authorities to extend some relief — especially with rents and taxes — to help the industry.
Pub owners also appealed to the state to revise the license fee and bring it on par with the rest of the metro cities. “This is a good time to re-look at it given that, even after a discount, we are paying a very hefty sum. And if we are indeed shut for a few more months this year — as is being said — are coffers will run dry,” said the owner of another popular club in Jubilee Hills who has laid off 90% of his staff.
Agreed Ketan Agarwal, owner of Fat Pigeon that paid Rs 30 lakh towards license fee just about a week before the night curfew was announced.

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