Vancouver city council has voted unanimously to endorse an application by the Sunset Grill Ltd. to increase capacity for its liquor-primary licence for its bar and restaurant in Kitsilano.
According to a staff report to council, the company has applied to lift the limit for its liquor-primary service from 39 to 100 people inside the Sunset Grill Taphouse & Whiskey Bar at 2204 York Avenue. In addition, council approved the application to allow the 20-person patio to fall under a liquor-primary licence.
The Sunset Grill has been owned and managed as a restaurant since 1989. A neighbourhood pub seating 39 people was added in 2004, according to a staff report.
The licence application still has to be approved by the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
The city's general manager of community services, Brenda Prosken, told council that staff are recommending "a bit of a shift", moving from "food-primary with liquor service to liquor-primary supported by food service".
She said that the number of seats inside the Sunset Grill will be reduced by eight and the number of patio seats will remain the same.
One of the speakers before council, Jamie Kelly, praised the Sunset Grill as a good neighbour that helps raise thousands of dollars for worthy causes, including the Vancouver Food Bank and for breast-cancer research.
"I take my grandchildren there for lunch," Kelly said. "It is a neighbourhood pub. It's like Cheers was in the television show. It's where everyone knows your name."
He then added that it's not a "headbanger pub".
"It's a really great community amenity and it does have a mature audience," he said.
Kelly acknowledged that over the past few decades, he has had to call police on four occasions because of noise in alleys, but he didn't link those incidents to the Sunset Grill.
The city received 24 form letters and a petition with 73 signatures supporting the company's application, according to the staff report. Another 10 people expressed support and 11 were opposed as a result of the city notifying residents within a two-block radius of the business, which is at the corner of York Avenue and Yew Street.
The chair of the council's committee on planning, transportation, and environment, Coun. Heather Deal, called the Sunset Grill "a great little establishment".
Deal, a Kitsilano resident, said that she hopes council can continue to support and encourage neighbourhood-style entertainment options, which are within walking distance of people's homes.
At the same time, Deal said that staff will be watching for disruptions after the business switches to a liquor-primary establishment.
"We know the beach can be the origin of some of those problems in the area," she stated.
Coun. Adriane Carr also spoke in favour of the motion, saying the Sunset Grill has a "history of loyal clientele, strong presence in the community—that's well supported—and no history of police being called out to the establishment".
Council's vote requires the patio to cease all liquor service and ensure the patio is vacated by 11 p.m. every night. In addition, there will be no music or entertainment permitted on the patio.