One night a few years ago, when the Last Drop was still considered a restaurant, the management decided one night to stop allowing minors in late. While it made sense to the owners, the decision was in contravention to their food-primary liquor license. Word got back to the Liquor Control Board and the Last Drop was shut down temporarily.
In the end, they chose to apply for a liquor primary license and go back to a bar where minors are never allowed – not even for lunch during the middle of the day.
For co-owner Brydon Roe, the laws that led to that situation are “so archaic, it’s ridiculous.”
“In normal places that are liberal in their thinking – in Europe you’re allowed to take a kid in while you’re having a glass of wine for lunch, or even if you’re not drinking,” he said. “Whereas here tourists come here and they can’t figure out why you can’t have lunch in a pub.”
He said he will be bringing up those issues with the provincial government, which is currently conducting a review of B.C.’s liquor policy.
One of the proposals is to allow children into a pub for lunch with their parents during the day, like they can at a licensed restaurant. Roe is very much in favour of this proposal.
“A pub in Vancouver should be allowed to have kids for lunch and then revert to liquor primary at night if they wish,” he said.
His thoughts are echoed by Brady Beruschi, the general manager of the Regent Hotel and its accompanying pub, restaurant, lounge and liquor store, who would also like to see minors allowed into pubs before a certain time.
One issue they both brought up is the fact that while Revelstoke is designated a resort municipality by the province, it is not recognized as such by the LCB. Resorts with that designation do have more flexibility with their licensing, such as being allowed to let supervised minors into bars before 8 p.m. In Revelstoke, those exceptions don’t exist.
Both Roe and Beruschi would like to see the designation apply to the whole community. “If Revelstoke cannot operate with the same rules as other communities with the same designation, I would like to allow ‘supervised minors’ into a hotel liquor primary establishment (pub) until 8 p.m.,” said Beruschi in an e-mailed response to questions.
Another concern they both expressed was the myriad of licenses they are forced to operate under. At the Powder Springs, the Last Drop is under a different license than the patio. If they run out of beer inside the bar, they can’t sell beer from the patio, and vice versa.
“Logic, sensible thinking doesn’t matter,” said Roe. “You can order a pint on the patio and if it starts pouring rain, you can’t take that pint into the pub.”
It’s a similar situation at the Regent, which operates a restaurant, lounge and pub in close proximity.
“If a guest is sitting in our lounge and wants to move to the dining room (or vice versa), they cannot bring their drink; a server must bring it,” said Beruschi. “Keep in mind our lounge and dining room are directly beside each other, in fact most customers would not even know that these are separate rooms. So I would like to see flexibility in transporting liquor products on a hotel property.”
Roe said the current policies leave a “bad taste in the tourists’ mouth.”
Also being considered are licenses for spas and farmers markets, as well as allowing liquor sales in corner stores or grocery stores. Beruschi, who manages the Cheers Liquor Store, was opposed to the latter, saying it would hurt private liquor stores and lead to a loss of employment.
Jill Zacharias, the city’s social development co-ordinator, said she hopes the province consults with addiction centres when crafting new policies. She said one of the key findings of the substance use strategy conducted a few years ago was that increasing the availability of alcohol leads to an increase in consumption,
“That goes with lengthening the hours that clubs are able to stay open,” she said. “Anything you do like that, increases consumption.”
The government has established a website for the Liquor Policy Review. Visit engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview to find out more and provide your own input into the process.