Coffee shop owners can focus on recovery

Timely move: Keu (left) and Wong are relieved over the government’s decision.

PETALING JAYA: Coffee shop owners are still recuperating from losses during this Covid-19 pandemic and they are relieved over the government’s decision to halt the enforcement of liquor licences from Jan 1 next year for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

This was indeed good news for coffee shop businesses and its owners, said Persatuan Peniaga-Peniaga Kopi, Bar dan Restoran Petaling Jaya president Keu Kok Meng.

“To apply for this licence, the operators would have had to pay a RM5,000 deposit.

“And if they were required to do this, the coffee shop could not be within 100 metres from residential areas, places or worship and police stations.

“In Petaling Jaya, coffee shops are very near to these places,” he said.

Keu added that imposing the enforcement of beer licences would have been untimely, especially in this time when coffee shops were struggling with losses.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, in an Instagram post yesterday, said the Finance Ministry had directed the Customs Department to cancel its directive to enforce liquor licence requirements on the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.

Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietor General Association president Wong Teu Hoon said it would be better if the law requiring licensing for liquor in retail sales be abolished altogether for coffee shops.

He explained that this was because the subject had been brought up repeatedly over the years.

“I first heard about it in 1976. I then heard it resurfacing in 1993, then 2019 and again this year.

“Every time the issue is brought up, it creates a lot of anxiety among coffee shop owners,” said Wong.

The major worry stems from having to face the anticipated backlash from their customers, he explained.

“The authorities must understand that unlike in pubs and high end restaurants, coffee shop patrons are extremely cost sensitive.”

“If they can raise a ruckus over a 20sen hike for a cup of coffee, how would they react if coffee shops raised the price of a bottle of beer by RM4?

“This would be the likely scenario if liquor licences for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages were to be enforced as coffee shop owners would have to pass the cost of the licensing fees to their customers,” said Wong.

In Bukit Mertajam, about 40% of eateries here had closed down because of the pandemic while the rest were struggling to make a comeback, said Seberang Prai Coffee Shop and Eatery Owners Association chairman Lee Kok Yong.

“Beer sales make up 20% of profits for coffee shops,” he added.

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