Port Coquitlam bar fined for breaking BC liquor rules

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When was the last time you stayed out past 2:30? Bennett Craft and Kitchen has been fined after BC liquor inspectors were refused entry by a man posing as a manager. The director plans to appeal, saying he feels “persecuted”.

Confusion over who should open the door to police and liquor inspectors has landed a Port Coquitlam bar in hot water.

Bennett Craft and Kitchen, hit with fines last year for COVID-19, has now been fined $16,000 for closing late and not allowing liquor store inspectors entry – actions considered to be a “flagrant and utter disregard for the law”.

In a decision posted online, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch found that The Bennett, located at 2099 Lougheed Highway, violated the Liquor Control and Dispensation Act because it allowed customers to staying past closing time and that staff had not taken steps to immediately authorize inspectors. and the police on the premises.

Instead, according to inspectors, a customer answered the door and refused them entry.

The liquor inspection took place on November 27, 2021, when people were observed drinking “yellow” liquid from short sleeves and glass goblets after the bar’s closing time of 2 p.m. Music could also be heard in the parking lot and TVs were on, inspectors said during a March 28, 2022 hearing.

Locked door prohibiting entry to police, inspectors

Inspectors called the Coquitlam RCMP for assistance and when officers arrived, the inspectors and police attempted to enter through the front door.

Nobody answered at first, until a policeman kicked the door, at which point a customer, who said he was in charge, refused them entry.

Reportedly, the customer said he needed to check if the alarm was on.

“When liquor inspectors and RCMP officers sought entry, they were refused and were not allowed entry until at least ten minutes had elapsed. The liquor inspectors observed people clearing the tables as they waited to enter,” the ruling said. states.

Further testimony revealed that the general manager and evening manager had already left the bar, leaving control to two doormen, one recently hired and an experienced doorman who was off duty but was helping.

According to the report, the doorman on duty should have told the customer to leave because the closing time had passed.

Instead, the client continued to infer that he was responsible by not specifically stating that he was not the director and suggesting that he could not “provide sales receipts or TV footage and that they should come back the next day,” the audience said. .

Supposed to stop serving alcohol at 2 p.m.

“He continued to complain about the actions of RCMP officers and liquor inspectors who entered the establishment and harassed them,” according to the inspectors’ testimony.

It wasn’t until several days later that the inspector learned that the customer claiming to be a crèche was not even an employee, the ruling says.

At Bennett, staff are supposed to stop serving alcohol at 2 p.m., but patrons have half an hour to finish any drinks they have.

According to testimonies, there were still customers in the establishment at 2:45 a.m.

Operations manager Leonard Hutchinson told the hearing that he left the bar at 2.05am because he felt unwell.

Hutchinson said the customer later told him he hadn’t refused entry and hadn’t said he was responsible.

According to Hutchinson, the incident was a one-time mistake.

Bars need ‘help, not persecution’ after COVID-19

In its ruling, the BC Liquor and Cannabis and Regulation Branch said better training, a more detailed operations manual, including information on what to do when a liquor inspector arrives, would help the company. resolve the issues observed during the November incident.

“It was not a one-time error where a member of staff failed to follow procedures. One of the reasons staff failed to follow the rules is lack of training on the particular issue of how react to liquor inspections, with the resulting failure by staff to follow rules regarding allowing entry to liquor inspectors,” Poole said in the ruling.

Regarding customer deception, Poole wrote, “It beggars belief that doorman 1 was unaware that customer 1 was pretending to be the authority.”

But Hutchinson told the News from the three cities that while he doesn’t know exactly what the customer said in the confusion, he thinks the liquor control leadership should be working with businesses struggling post COVID-19, not “harassing” them.

For example, the inspectors could have solved the problem earlier by entering the establishment at 2 am, as soon as they arrived, rather than waiting, or contacting him directly, the next day, to sort things out.

Regarding staff training, Hutchinson said he was at the bar most nights and coached by example and used technology to educate staff on business practices and protocols. .

The bouncer on duty didn’t go to the door, he said, because he didn’t hear a knock. Instead, the customer, who is a regular, answered the door.

Inspectors could have resolved the confusion by asking other staff if the customer was indeed the manager in charge, Hutchinson said.

“I really want to emphasize why I feel persecuted or upset. If I’ve done something wrong, I’m the first person to say ‘I’m wrong, I’ll pay for it’, but there’s no has no human aspect to it. No one came up and said, we’ll work with you mate, nobody.”

Hutchison said he has appealed the decision and if that fails he will take the case to court.

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