After a visit from the liquor compliance and enforcement division, Hoko’s Sushi Karaoke Bar (362 Powell Street) is no longer presenting live music. The East Side restaurant was a vital destination for music lovers and a venue in the Music Waste festival. But on August 22, when inspectors determined that the late-night crowd hadn’t ordered food and found a beer on-stage during a karaoke performance, Hoko’s decided to pull the plug on live shows.
Manager Jian Chao said that the move was necessary to honour Hoko’s Food Primary licence. “If people want to come for karaoke, I have to tell them the conditions: that everybody has to eat food,” she told the Straight.
Chao was touched by the reaction in Vancouver’s music community, which has seen another favorite grassroots venue slip away. “I feel lucky,” Chao said. “They’re like our friends.”
The Safe Amplification Site Society’s Jarrett Evan Samson said that Hoko’s had made itself viable in a rough neighbourhood. “They were so supportive,” Samson told the Straight, “and for them it was a good business opportunity.” Samson also emphasized that live music in Vancouver has taken another blow. “It was always one of my favourite venues,” he said with a sigh. “And it was so much fun playing a sushi restaurant.”