Dealing with town planning and licensing issues has proved frustrating for a Subiaco restaurant – and it has been confusing for some customers. Julie-anne Sprague reports.
THE connotations of the word ‘tavern’ are proving problematic for the operators of the Atlantic restaurant in Rokeby Road, Subiaco.
Atlantic’s owners want to further develop the venue to offer patrons greater flexibility with regard to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
But while Atlantic owner Paul Zisopoulos says the restaurant has no plans to operate as a tavern in the traditional sense of the word, it has had a setback during the town-planning approval process.
This week The City of Subiaco town planning committee recommended that the application be rejected.
Town planning approval is required before Atlantic can apply for a liquor licence.
Mr Zisopoulos says Atlantic is not planning for a significant deviation from what it is already doing, certainly not rolling in the beer kegs and taking out the tables and chairs.
“We’re not going to be making a lot of alterations, we’re not asking for an extension of trading hours, but people are making assumptions about what we are intending to do because it’s a tavern application,” he said.
Atlantic’s intentions are to create a place where people are just as comfortable coming in for lunch as they are for an afternoon drink, he says.
The City of Subiaco town planning committee recommendation to reject Atlantic’s tavern application was based on a failure to justify that it would not be detrimental to the amenity of the areas adjacent to the town centre, and for failing to demonstrate satisfactory measures for the management of patrons.
Subiaco town planners also thought the licensee did not demonstrate the need for the facility based on the availability of similar facilities in the area, and questioned whether there was sufficient parking for the venue.
The problem, according to Mr Zisopoulos and his restaurant manger Russell Dewson-Jones, is that the word tavern is inconsistent with what their actual plans are.
Mr Dewson-Jones says even regular diners are confused with the restaurant’s plans.
“Last night we had a table of four in who said they had heard we wanted to be a tavern and were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to come here any more,” Mr Dewson-Jones told Gusto.
“People think because we’ve applied for a tavern licence that we are going to be come Paddy’s or take on the Subi Hotel.
“That’s not what we want to do.
“We will always be food focused and with a place this size [licensed for about 90 people] we wouldn’t survive on just serving drinks.
“Subi lacks the 40-plus venue and that’s what we’re trying to do.
“We want people to be able to come in here on an afternoon and have a glass of wine if they want to.
“Sometimes you just want to go somewhere and sit down and have a drink and not stand in a crowded space and have drink spilled on you.”
But that’s something the restaurant can already do, according to the liquor licensing authority.
Mr Zisopoulos says he believed his initial application about four years ago for a special facility licence was rejected because a restaurant licence would provide him with the flexibility to offer alcohol without a meal.
A restaurant licence provides the opportunity to serve alcohol without the sale of a meal in a section no greater than 20 per cent of the total floor space.
But that section can’t be at a bar and it has to be demarcated and it can’t be promoted.
“There’s no difference between someone who has a salad and drinks four bottles of wine and someone who comes in and has four bottles of wine.” Mr Dewson-Jones says.
“It’s about responsible service of alcohol.”