If one were to believe Sanjay Coutinho, the CEO of Barista who made the startling statement while talking to the media last Thursday, it plans to serve wine and beer in its ‘Cream’ stores from September and had already applied for liquor licences from some State governments. The service might be rolled out first in Delhi, he added.
Unless Barista has inside information to the much awaited policy of the Delhi government to allow opening of wine bars at reduced license costs, it is unlikely that the small cafes selling wine and beer can be profitable for a long time, due to the high license fee required to be paid annually for serving wine and liquor, even though liquor may not be served. There has been a strong lobby and plea with the Delhi government to allow selling wine against licenses costing nominal amounts as in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
However, if the company fulfill its promise, it should be a big boost to its bottom line as well as a boon to the wine industry because under the current government policies, high taxes are only a part of the story-albeit a major part, but availability at department stores or the wine bars and cafes like in Italy where one can order a glass of espresso or Prosecco at the same time in a ‘bar’, is also a substantial part of the hurdles in the way of wine promotion and consumption.