People are 'pre-loading' more: Bar owner

Dunedin bar owner Rob Dale says liquor law reforms have increased pre-loading and discourage people from drinking in bars.

Mr Dale owns Urban Factory, Capone and Boogie Nights, all of which cater primarily to students.

He said his bars had been applying intoxication standards long before the reforms were introduced six months ago but earlier closing times and increased alcohol prices in bars were fuelling a culture of pre-loading.

The reforms, which came into effect in December 2013, set trading hours that meant licensed premises had to close at 4am.

Mr Dale said it was ''impossible'' for bars to compete against bottle stores and it was difficult for bars to provide a safe and fun environment when they had to charge 15 to 20 times more for alcohol. His bars were turning away at least one-third of patrons for being intoxicated because of the pre-loading culture in Dunedin.

''People are pre-loading more, so we're turning more people away.''

Mr Dale said his bars had eight to 10 doormen working on Saturday nights, and anyone seen outside with alcohol was refused entry.

He believed more people were drinking at large parties in the student area than in bars and clubs, and there was a misconception about why people went to bars.

''There's a bad perception that people have, that people go to a bar to drink,'' he said.

People went to bars for the people, rather than the music or to buy alcohol, he said.

Law reforms had decreased the number of people drinking in bars, but not the number of people drinking, he said.

- by Daisy Hudson 

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