On April 1st, India’s Supreme Court issued an order that bars, pubs and liquor shops across the country should be at least 500m away from state and national highways. The new rule hit business owners hard, and many of them have had to shut down their operations in the last two weeks. But one resourceful bar owner in Kerala appears to have come up with an effective, albeit unconventional, way of bypassing the requirement – by turning the entrance to his venue into a long, winding maze.
The Aishwarya Bar in North Paravoor, a suburb of Kochi, was forced to close down temporarily when the court ruling came into effect, but instead of complaining about it, the owner came up with an idea that would allow him to reopen the bar and operate legally. He hired some workers and spent three days putting up a series of concrete blocks that essentially turned the previously straight walkway leading up to the entrance into a maze. Now, the walking distance from the highway to his bar is 520 meters, so he is technically allowed to sell alcohol.
Believe it or not, the new entrance leads patrons from the front of the bar, through the side, to the barren patch of land at the back, where they have to zig-zag their way back to the entrance, through a walled walkway. It’s pretty mind-boggling, but the owner and his manager are convinced that it’s perfectly legal.
“We have done nothing illegal. The plot behind the bar also belongs to the owner and we have constructed an extended way to reach the bar,” manager Shiju P. told The Indian Times. “Now it is 520 meters from the highway. We are set to approach the circle inspector of excise with the new route map to authorize the reopening of the bar.”
And if you’re thinking that there’s no way authorities will ever fall for this kind of gimmick, you couldn’t be more wrong. Excise officials have already admitted that the solution is acceptable, since commissioners measure walking distance, not aerial distance, so the bar is now in the clear.
“We do not measure the aerial distance but only the walking distance. However, they will be fined for altering the entrance,” a Vijayan IPS additional excise commissioner said.
The owner of Aishwarya Bar reportedly spent 1.5 lakh ($2,300) modifying the entrance, but it will have been money well spent if he gets permission to operate again.
News of the bizarre workaround has already made national headlines, and bar owners across India are apparently planning to use the same method to bypass the Supreme Court rule.