By Sacha Delfosse – editor bars&clubs
The New South Wales Government has introduced a new small bar liquor licence that goes into effect as of today (July 1).
The Liquor Amendment (Small Bars) Bill 2013 will restrict new small bars to a maximum of 60 patrons and allow them to operate till 2am in most cases.
A limited type of hotel licence known as a general bar licence still exists to cater for new venues accommodating in excess of 60 patrons.
The idea behind the small bar specific licence stems from the NSW Government's response to alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in Kings Cross, however the new licence will apply to the whole state.
"Small bars will be exempt from the liquor licence freezes in Kings Cross and Darlinghurst, however small bars established in the expanded Kings Cross Precinct and in Darlinghurst, will be licensed to serve alcohol until midnight.
"They will however, be able to apply to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) to stay open for an extra two hours (2am)," said NSW Minister for Hospitality, George Souris.
Under the new small bar licence, gaming machines are prohibited and food must be made available. The Liquor Amendment (Small Bars) Bill 2013 will be reviewed in 2016 to access the impact of small bars and see if any changes need to be made.
The Small Bar Association (SBA) held a meeting two weeks ago for its members and prospective bar owners to discuss issues – such as zoning, capacity, base operating hours and exceptions – surrounding the new small bar licence with representatives of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR).
"This is the first time our members have had the opportunity to sit down discuss this new small bar licence with a representative of the OLGR," SBA president Martin O'Sullivan said.
"The SBA's main agenda as always is to see more small bars through NSW. Communicating changes and opportunities to our members is paramount to this."