As Monkey Bar prepares to shut down, chef Manu Chandra says it has become tough to run bona fide restaurants in Bengaluru due to the public entertainment license issue.

After Humming Tree and BFlat Bengalurus Monkey Bar to shut its doors
news Commerce Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 17:55

After Humming Tree and BFlat, one of  Bengaluru’s popular pubs – Monkey Bar is shutting its doors on November 24. In a statement, Manu Chandra, chef and Chief Partner at Monkey Bar, said that the pub had to shut down as it was unable to procure a public entertainment license. 

For Manu Chandra and the Monkey Bar team, the closure of the Indiranagar branch is personal, with the restaurant and bar having first set up shop in Bengaluru in 2012 before it expanded with branches in other parts of the country. For now, it's the end of the road for Monkey Bar in the city it first called home.

Speaking to TNM, Manu Chandra said that Monkey Bar could not get the license as the building owners had not procured an Occupational Certificate from the civic body – Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. BBMP is supposed to issue Occupational Certificates only if the said building follows the fire safety norms and the building bye-laws. However, several bar owners have alleged that this process is not followed through properly. 

Read: B’luru pubs protest live music ban, residents say buildings themselves are illegal

A few months ago, the Bengaluru police began enforcing rules laid down under Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order, 2005, which requires establishments to get licenses for entertainment programmes. This means pubs and restaurants cannot play live music without a license, however this license also was later applied to playing pre-recorded music. From 2018, the Bengaluru police asked all pubs and restaurants in the city to submit a variety of documents to procure an entertainment license, after Supreme Court upheld the licensing rules.

However, most of Bengaluru's core areas have violated building bye-laws in one way or another, but the civic body had allowed these constructions. As a majority of buildings in the city (including government buildings) were built in contravention of one bye-law or the other, the Karnataka government had proposed to normalise them under the Akrama Sakarama scheme. Since the issue of Akrama Sakarama is sub-judice, no action has been taken yet. Restaurant and bar owners say that imposing such rules for a license is problematic to local businesses.

"The closure is because we are unable to get a Public Entertainment License owing to the demand of an OC. The license meant for “live bands” has come to cover pre-recorded music too. The Police Commissioner has the full authority to rationalise this order, but that has not happened. The list of documents required to procure a license to play background music are untenable, especially given a majority of them are in the purview of building owners and not the tenants. Now the tenants are being penalised after having invested heavily in these spaces," Manu Chandra told TNM.

Impossible to run bona fide restaurants

The Supreme Court upheld the Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Entertainment (Bangalore City) Order, 2005 in January 2018 following a dispute that dragged on for several years. In addition to this, a group of Indiranagar residents moved the Karnataka High Court against the illegalities in the operation of pubs in the area.

Earlier in September, several popular bars in Indiranagar including Humming Tree, BFlat and BTDT had shut as they were not given the license. In some cases, the bars did not have an OC and others did not get the license as the building owners had not complied with fire safety norms. These three bars were known for their live music performances, especially Humming Tree and BFlat, as they provided a platform for budding musicians to perform.

“The Bangalore landscape has changed to an extent where it is almost impossible to run a bona fide restaurant and bar business today. We are always supportive of the authorities and the interests of everyone in a city and try and work closely with the laws as they exist. Retroactive decision making, post all clearances and investment and effort, is a huge setback and ends up punishing so many legitimate businesses. Rules that ought to have been rationalised years ago, get used as mechanisms for making things impossible to those running their business and that is very wrong. Monkey Bar became a Bangalore cult brand, a story that spread across the country from this city. We will be back, hopefully soon.” Manu Chandra said.

 

 

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