Bring back in-house alcohol

AFTER two months of the ban on the sale of alcohol at restaurants that offer in-house dining, restaurateurs are hopeful that sale of alcohol can resume as their revenue has been cut by between 40 and 70 per cent.

On November 7, 2020, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that restaurants can reopen at 50 per cent capacity but patrons are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages on the premises.

He said: “Alcohol consumption contributes to the reduced level of responsibility.”

Speaking to the Express yesterday, Derek Chin, chief executive officer of Dachin Group of Companies which includes Texas de Brazil, Rizzoni’s Ristorante Italiano and Jaxx International Grill located in MovieTowne, said it has been a challenge to operate without the sale of alcohol, as alcohol sales contributes to 40 per cent of the revenue of those restaurants.

“With Covid still very much in the air, patrons are not coming out as they used to, as more are opting to use the curbside pick-up option. Restaurant owners are under pressure and some are on the verge of closing down. Our revenue is down by 40 per cent” Chin said.

“At the end of the day it’s Government’s decision to lift the ban, but we have not seen an extra spike and once the sale of alcohol resumes we the restaurant owners have to ensure all Covid protocols continue to be adhered to,” he added.

On Ariapita Avenue, Mai Thai restaurant owner Ronnie Moses said while he applauds the Government’s handling of the pandemic in T&T, he sees no reason why the ban should not be lifted for restaurants as patrons who dine do not excessively drink while having a meal or out with their family.

“Once the social distancing and discipline is maintained, I don’t see the issue of not lifting the ban, as restaurants are generally not rowdy establishments and there is a level of discipline.”

Moses said that the pandemic has really hit the food and beverage industry and some are restaurants are closing down.

“Patrons are hardly coming out, people are trickling to dine at my restaurant and my revenue is down by 70 per cent, but I still have to maintain overhead expenses and pay staff,” Moses said.

And, at Jenny’s on the Boulevard, owner Jennifer Dan Sharma said while her revenue is down by 45 per cent due to the ban, patrons are still coming out to the establishment but not like how it used to be.

“The ban should have been lifted a long time ago and some persons just opt to order curbside as they cannot enjoy their meal with a glass of wine or their preferred choice of alcoholic beverage. At my restaurant, patrons don’t come to get ‘drunk’, they come out with their families to enjoy the evening with good food and one or two drinks,” Sharma said.

All the restaurant owners are hoping that good news can be given to them soon.

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