More Alberta businesses seek ability to serve liquor to customers

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Now that the Alberta government has changed the rules to allow spas, salons and barbershops to serve alcohol to customers, a number of other establishments are fighting for their right to pour a cold one for their clients.

In early March, a salon in Marda Loop was told that it could no longer serve alcohol to clients.

The reaction was swift from customers and online, forcing the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to relent and end up renewing the business’s licence.

“That’s the best feeling ever,” said Lisa Maric, owner of Distilled. “Literally everybody here was so excited.”

She says that she didn’t think the process should have been so difficult to manage.

“This was an odd place for us to stumble to be quite honest and I think we’ve gotten over it and we’re back on track and I think it was because everybody got behind it so quickly I think.”

Now that the AGLC has opened the door to some businesses, the owners of others, like Bike and Brew in Bridgeland, hopes the agency will extend the same benefit to them.

Travis Ferguson said he watched Distilled’s situation very closely and feels his company has got an edge.

“We feel we’re very similar to the barber shops, salons and spas. We’re offering a service and we want to offer a unique experience and we hope the AGLC will see more businesses included in that.”

Weston Covert, Ferguson’s partner says the concept of Bike and Brew is very simple.

“You’re off work, you’ve had a long day, you wanna come in and get your bike serviced and while you wait, wouldn’t it be nice to have a beer?”

However, they say their efforts haven’t proven successful so far as the AGLC has rejected all of their applications. The board says that Bike and Brew doesn’t meet liquor licence requirements.

“The classes that we applied under, you have to be a restaurant or a bar,” said Ferguson. “There’s really no in-between.”

Joe Ceci, Alberta’s Finance Minister and AGLC head, says he’s committed to modernizing the province’s liquor laws.

“There are so many things in the Liquor Act that need improvement and we’ve done a number of things already,” he said on Friday. “We’ve taken those impediments away so that others like Distilled can have the enjoyment of their patrons finding an atmosphere that is far more pleasing.”

For now, Bike and Brew has sent a formal letter to Ceci about the issue, promising to make whatever changes necessary to make their business model work.

(With files from Stephanie Wiebe)

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