Bars — a one street way?

Sydney Blackmore looks both ways before crossing.

Drink discretion
City council is making it just a little bit harder to operate a bar in the downtown area—anywhere off George Street at least.

“Right now, as long as you meet the city’s regulations for size and safety, then you are permitted to have a lounge anywhere in the downtown area,” explains Ken O’Brien, manager of planning and information with the City of St. John’s. “What we’re proposing to do is keep George Street as a ‘permitted use’ area and everything else outside of this area will be a ‘discretionary use’ area.”

The ‘discretionary use’ category means that a potential business owner will have to advertise to the public plans of setting up a lounge in a certain location that wasn’t previously a lounge before council makes a decision to allow it or not. Says O’Brien, “This change in regulation would give the general public, nearby property owners and tenants the opportunity to comment on a lounge application before the council decides on it.”

He explains the move was motivated by Byron Murphy, owner of Byron’s Clothing For Men, who placed a formal complaint to city hall about a neighbouring business, the dance bar Liquid Ice.

“He complained about noise and people coming out of the pub and causing trouble on the street,” says O’Brien. “So in response, the council is considering making this change to our development regulations.”
City council passed this particular amendment during their meeting on September 22.

The California-based Other Ocean Group Inc. announced that they’ll be setting up a video game development studio in St. John’s and creating over 62 jobs in the process. The NL Government sweetened the deal by shelling out a $2.4 million dollar investment to aid the company’s transition to the Rock. Why? Paul Oram, provincial Minister of Business, says it’s an attempt to diversify the province’s economy and make the province a more competitive player in the global market.

“We have a business attraction team that basically travels the world to look for opportunities and then we bring them back,” says Oram. “We sought [Other Ocean Group] out, we went to a couple of conferences dealing with gaming and there we saw the opportunity.”

He says introducing new industries to the province makes it less likely for the economy to rely too heavily on one resource.

“What we’re trying to do as a Government today is diversify our portfolio,” he says. “And sure, oil and gas is important now, and we’re trying to ramp it up as much as possible, but at the end of the day, that is a non-renewable resource. We need to be able to look at other areas where we can attract businesses to the province, and other areas where we can become leaders in the world. In order to do that we need to look at companies like Other Ocean.”

A Shot of Whiskey on George
What’s a lil’ bit country, a lil’ bit rock n’ roll and features talented performers, singing and dancing to timeless hits? No, not Donny and Marie’s latest Vegas Spectacle in The Flamingo Showroom, I’m talking about Whiskey, one of the newest additions to George Street. It will be taking up residence in the old Sam Shades/Octane/Pulse location.

The bar is owned by a pair from Colinet, who—for the time being—wish to remain anonymous. The boys aim to bring a dose of country to George, says one of owners.

“There’s not one country bar on the strip. Our target market of people are 25-55 years of age and there’s really no place for them to go. Whiskey will fill this void,” he says. “It’s for the country lovers, and for a mature audience.”

The bar will be interactive, with bartenders moonlighting as performers.

“Whiskey will be along the style of Coyote Ugly [the American bar chain],” he says. “We’ll have bartenders who can get up and do a few songs throughout the night. We’re looking for the right people, those who can sing and feel comfortable up on stage.”

Whiskey is currently slated to open October 15th, 2008 and once opened, will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Ballistic Squared
The Ballistic clothing store on Water Street has taken up the neighbouring space once occupied by the recently closed Couture Studio. This second Ballistic site is being used to sell clearance items, including footwear, outerwear and accessories for summer, fall and winter stock. It will be open for regular hours effective now until Christmas time.