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The Small Bar Licence

Sydney’s social scene is increasingly beginning to resemble that of its age old rival Melbourne, with small bars opening up in and around the CBD, most notably in the past year. We can expect to see more of this, with the introduction of the Small Bar Licence, which has been in operation since 1 July 2013.

This relatively new licence was introduced to create a different business model for the industry, and to encourage the development of intimate drinking establishments with limited patron capacity. The application process is simpler, and there is only the need for community consultation in certain circumstances, reducing the application processing time, and consequently, cost.

The standard operating hours for a small bar licence are midday to 2:00am Monday to Sunday, and the patron capacity is 60. Importantly, the freeze operating in certain areas of Sydney does not restrict the application of small bar licences, and the licence can be granted whether or not the venue is in a freeze area- although certain restrictions may apply. Current freeze areas include Kings Cross and Oxford Street Darlinghurst, although the latter expires in December of this year. Take away sales and gaming machines are not permitted.

Until 31 December 2013, the holders of general bar licences can convert these licences to a small bar licence, and profit from an automatic extension of trading hours until 2:00am for bars not located in a freeze precinct. There is no fee to convert these licences.

So, if you’re thinking of setting up a new licensed venue, or converting your existing venue to a small bar, contact us for advice. And, if this topic is of interest to you, you might like to read the following articles; ‘Surge in Small Bars’, The Australian,  21 January 2012 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/executive-living/surge-in-small-bars/story-e6frg9zo-1226249625164 and ‘Sydney Drinks to Small Bar Movement’, The Star 8 October 2013 http://www.thestar.com.my/Travel/Oceania/2013/10/09/Sydney-drinks-to-small-bar-movement.aspx.

Anthea Eills

anthea.eills@surrypartners.com.au