CHIANG MAI — A chef and owner of a Japanese restaurant in Chiang Mai City said he wasn’t aware that serving ‘beer buffet’ is illegal until he was fined 50,000 baht yesterday.
Speaking on the phone Wednesday, Sarawut Jinnakaew, owner of Ai Tomoe restaurant, said public health officials and police visited his restaurant on Tuesday after someone alerted the authorities. It was the latest crackdown on actions seen as “encouraging” others to drink, as prohibited by the draconian alcohol law.
“I already signed a confession,” Sarawut said. “The public officials will send me a letter to pay the fine next week.”
For the 499 baht beer buffet, Sarawut faces up to 500,000 baht in fine and a possible jail sentence under Section 32 of the Alcohol Control Act, though he said officials agree to settle for a smaller amount of 50,000 baht.
Signs and posters promoting the buffet have been removed, and Sarawut posted on Facebook to warn others.
“Let this be a lesson for others,” the chef said. “There is at least one beer buffet still available in Chiang Mai that I know of.”
The alcohol regulation law bans any action deemed to “encourage” others to drink, whether they are “Happy Hour” and alcohol buffet promotions, discounts, or even photos of booze on social media.
Despite the ban, many restaurants and bars in Thailand continue to offer promotions for alcohol, and enforcement of the law is uneven.