Clarke Quay clubs call for review of liquor license law in Singapore

Clubs in one of Singapore’s popular nighttime areas, Clarke Quay, are calling for a review of the city’s liquor licensing hours after the legendary Shanghai Dolly club closed its doors last Saturday, arguing that shortened liquor serving hours have dealt a deadly blow to business.

The shortening of liquor licensing hours was introduced in Singapore in 2013 to curb drunken behaviour and since then about 12 clubs have closed in Clarke Quay, said Gordon Foo, general manager of Shanghai Dolly, a cabaret-like club in Clarke Quay that saw its last day on 14 April.

“This is not counting smaller bars, restaurants and other eateries. And is due to a decrease in footfall”, Foo told dbHK. 

Since the introduction of the new liquor licensing hours, Foo estimated that his business suffered about a 30% drop in custom. “Being a club, business normally starts picking up after midnight and can peak as late as 2am. But we need to start clearing all alcohol on the tables at about 2.30am to meet the 3am stipulation, which gives the customers very little time to enjoy themselves. This has resulted in a drop in business of about 30% after the new rule came into effect,” he explained.

Before the new rule, clubs with a liquor license were allowed to sell alcohol to customers until 6am, but it was shortened to 3am on Sundays and weekdays. Serving time on Saturdays and public holiday eves are extended for one more hour to 4am, reported Straits Times.

Although the closure has created a new incentive for fellow clubs to put pressure on the Singapore government to review the liquor licensing hours, but Foo was apprehensive that it will bring changes anytime soon.

The request for the review is fronted by The Singapore Nightlife Business Association together with Singapore Tourism Board and the management of Clarke Quay. It has been ongoing since the onset of the curtailment from October 2013, Foo elaborated.

“And little headway has been made with the exception of an additional hour on the last two Fridays of every month, as well as on special occasions like the Singapore Rugby Sevens and Singapore Grand Prix,” he added.

Asked if there’s a possibility that Shanghai Dolly will reopen at a new location, Foo replied, “If a suitable location is found we will definitely reopen.”

Opened in 2009, Shanghai Dolly has hosted performances by artists such as Taiwanese singer Rainie Yang and homegrown singer Tanya Chua.

In Singapore, despite its sophisticated wine and spirits market, per capita alcohol consumption is low compared with its other Asian counterparts. Due to the country’s strict laws on alcohol consumption, Singaporeans only drink 2.9 litres a year on average, making it just the eleventh heaviest drinking nation in Asia.

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