Kolkata: The proposal to allow clubs to serve liquor in designated areas from September has evoked a mixed response from the city’s premier clubs. While some are eager to grab the opportunity, others prefer to be cautious, saying they would evaluate the situation after a formal notification is issued.
Tolly Club, Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) and Bengal Club will start serving liquor once the order is issued. Some of the others, such as Calcutta Club, Calcutta Rowing Club (CRC), DI and Lake Club said they would discuss the matter after the order comes.
A city-based professional, who is a member of several premier clubs, felt that the clubs which have already started dining-in services may start serving liquor on premises, but for those that are still closed, it may not be a viable proposition.
Tolly Club, RCGC, Bengal Club and Calcutta Club have started activities, although curtailed.
Tolly Club CEO Anil Mukherjee hailed the proposal to allow liquor in clubs. “We shall go for it if there is a formal notification,” he told TOI. He pointed out that Tolly had already resumed some of its open-area dining facilities. “Life has to go on. Sporting activities have also re-started. We have been operating our open-dining areas with all necessary steps. Likewise, we shall also serve liquor taking into account all Covid-safety protocols,” Mukherjee added.
T Baweja, a committee member of RCGC who looks after food and beverages, said his club was waiting for the formal order to start serving liquor. “Our open-area dining is already operational. Once liquor is allowed, we may open some indoor dining, too,” he said. An official of Bengal Club said the club would start serving liquor once the order arrives. “Our Chinese restaurant is already operational,” he said.
CRC secretary Chandan Roychowdhury felt maintaining social distance would be an issue. “Restaurants can restrict entry, but we can’t say no to members,” he said. “Another issue could be overhead expenses and whether serving liquor would be a viable proposition considering the club is now closed…. If we open and can’t get enough members to visit, it would be a problem,” he added.
Clubs like CRC, DI and Lake Club have not opened, while Calcutta Club has not yet started dining facilities. Jayajit Biswas, president of DI, said, “We need to go through the official order vis-a-vis government norms with regard to Covid-19 in terms of social distancing and hygiene before arriving at a decision.”
Pramit Ray, committee member of Calcutta Club, said the club would evaluate the situation once the notification comes. “Without the notification, we should not comment. For us, the safety of members is top priority,” he said. Calcutta Club has started off-shops, beauty parlour and some sports. The secretary of Lake Club, Subrata Guha, said it was premature to comment without the order, but added that clubs which have started food pavilions were still not profitable. “Our club is completely closed apart from accounting and other official activities,” he said.