Save BC Restaurants!

This is a Crisis.

The Restaurant Industry is facing countless challenges and the BCRFA and Restaurants Canada have come together to show the Government that when you stack challenge after challenge, cost increase after cost increase, over debilitating debt from loans, the picture is a serious one and not easy to read.

“The Menu” below is being introduced to Government bodies, the press and the public on Tuesday, January 23, 2024, with the hopes that seeing everything that Restaurants face in one intense document will help people understand the severity of what Restaurants are going through.

It is our hope that “The Menu” will show the truth of the crushing impacts of what Restaurants deal with on a daily basis and encourage real support and understanding from our Government so that change will be imminent. 

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Revolutionary POS System can Prevent a $7,000 fine from the Minors as Agents Program.

The team at Rising Tide Consultants has been researching avenues to help industry in the defence against the Government’s Minors as Agents program.

The Minors as Agents program is funded and regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, whereby “youthful-appearing adults” are recruited to attempt to purchase liquor on the Branch’s behalf. The issue is the agents can often appear older, and if a judgment call is made to not ask for ID, the business can be in some very hot water.

One of the key resources Rising Tide has discovered is a revolutionary POS and Payment Processing System all in one convenient hand held device. Endorsed by Forbes as the #1 restaurant POS system with over 93,000 restaurant locations around the world, Toast is now available in Canada.

The functionalities are 100% geared towards hospitality venues with one very important one that will aid in prevention of a $7,000 fine and possible subsequent 21 day suspension of your liquor license, which are the penalties if you are caught in non-compliance with the Minors as Agents program.

You can customize the POS to default to an initial screen reminding the service staff to check for valid ID that requires acknowledgment before they are allowed to proceed to processing any order. This should not only prevent the service of alcohol to minors, but if an infraction does occur, then you have a strong defence of due diligence.

There is also an SOS functionality that the service staff can press a button that immediately communicates a distress message to your desired printer location in the event of an intoxicated, belligerent or difficult customer interaction. This is mapped to the table directly and is invisible to the customer.

For more information on Toast and deeper insight on how you can guard your business against the MAP, contact us directly.

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Happy Holidays from Rising Tide Consultants

We wish to thank you for choosing us as your licensing expert and consulting partner. It has been our pleasure to support the retail and hospitality industries for the past 35 years and we look forward to being here for all of your future needs.

Happy Holidays from the Rising Tide Team!

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Impactful Wins at Vancouver City Council

Vancouver City Council met Wednesday, Dec 13, 2023 on some very important issues for Industry.

We are proud to be a member of the Hospitality Task Force with key industry partners, including the BCRFA, ABLE BC, Restaurants Canada, The Craft Brewer’s Guild and the BCHA that has been advocating to the city on the following key issues. We are pleased to report some impactful wins! Vancouver is no longer “No Fun City.”

The existing licensing moratoriums for Granville Street, Chinatown and Gastown have been eliminated so those areas of Vancouver are now open for new business licenses or expansion of existing licensed establishments.

“With respect to the moratorium on Granville Street, my view is moratoriums just prop up the dinosaurs, it does not allow for creativity, innovation, and a new opportunity to breathe life in. You’re just propping up the cheap bars, with cheap drinks, and you end up with drunks. I think you need to have that creativity and innovation to allow us to compete with other cities.” ~Bert Hick, Founder and President Rising Tide Consultants

The distancing requirements of licensed establishments has also been eliminated, clearing the way for more licensed establishments of similar size.

The licensing of retail business with liquor primary licenses, such as Spas, Beauty Salons and Retail Stores has now been approved. This will allow for these types of businesses to serve alcohol to their patrons along with their regular retail business.

These are very positive outcomes and we are proud to have been an integral part of bringing these changes to the City of Vancouver. We promise to continue our mission to streamline processes, slash red tape and eliminate antiquated policies for the benefit of our tourism and hospitality industries.

Read the City News article HERE

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Magnifying glass and annual number 2023 with REVIEW word

2023 in Review: A Year of Wins for Rising Tide Consultants

As we bid farewell to 2023, Rising Tide Consultants takes a moment to celebrate a remarkable journey marked by milestones, industry recognitions, and successful collaborations. Join us as we delve into the highlights that made 2023 a year to remember.

Celebrating 35 Years of Excellence

Rising Tide Consultants proudly reached a significant milestone – 35 years in business! Over the last 3 and a half decades, our firm has demonstrated unwavering commitment and expertise in the liquor and hospitality sector.

As recognition, our founder and President Bert Hick was recently honored with an induction into the BCRFA Hall of Fame as the “Friend of Industry”. We couldn’t be more proud of Bert, and all of his contributions to this industry over the years.

Strengthening Our Team

A pivotal addition to Rising Tide Consultants in 2023 was Dugald Smith, former Deputy General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Joining as a Senior Licensing Consultant, Dulgald Smith brings invaluable experience to the team, ensuring continued success in navigating the complex regulatory landscape in Canada.

Advocacy and Collaboration

Rising Tide spearheaded the Liquor Hospitality Task Force, collaborating with Industry Associations. This collaborative effort with the Vancouver City Council resulted in significant strides towards simplifying processes and implementing policy changes, fostering an environment where businesses can thrive, innovate, and grow. The commitment to further progress remains at the forefront of Rising Tide’s mission.

Continuing to engage with industry associations at both provincial and local government levels, Rising Tide has been actively educating licensees on the Minors as Agents’ Program, ensuring compliance and a steadfast defense of diligence.

Advocating for Change

Rising Tide has actively advocated for amendments to regulations, urging the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch to permit liquor stores to temporarily relocate during development. This proactive approach demonstrates Rising Tide’s dedication to addressing industry challenges and facilitating smooth transitions.

Client Wins in 2023

The year 2023 saw numerous client victories for Rising Tide Consultants, showcasing the breadth of expertise and dedication to securing licensing approvals:

The Cineplex entertainment experience “Rec Room” secured licensing approval, set to debut in Vancouver in Fall 2024.

Rogers Arena received approval for a new bar concept, enhancing the fan experience between the visiting team and the Canucks dressing rooms.

TopTable Group’s fine dining restaurant Marilena claimed the #3 spot in Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2023.

The iconic Fountainhead Pub successfully expanded, increasing interior and patio capacities and transitioning to a class 3 liquor license.

Dahlia restaurant and its rooftop patio in the new Azur Hotel, the Gordon Ramsay Burger in the Hard Rock Casino Coquitlam, and the Massey Theatre in New Westminster all received licensing approvals, showcasing the diversity of Rising Tide’s portfolio.

Community Engagement

Rising Tide Consultants actively participated in and sponsored impactful industry events throughout 2023, including the BCHA Summit, SPARK Conference, Fortify Conference, and NGCOA.

As we look back on 2023, Rising Tide Consultants expresses gratitude for the trust and collaboration of clients, partners, and the industry at large. With a steadfast commitment to excellence, innovation, and community support, Rising Tide looks forward to a promising future in the evolving landscape of liquor and hospitality regulations. Cheers to a successful 2023, and here’s to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in 2024!

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Bert Hick of Rising Tide Consultants inducted into the BCRFA hall of fame 2023

Bert Hick, Founder and President of Rising Tide Consultants was inducted into the BCRFA Hall of Fame 2023 on Monday, October 23rd. Bert was given the inductee designation of Friend of the Industry. This special recognition award is presented from time to time to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the hospitality industry in British Columbia

“I am honoured to have the recognition of being inducted into the BCRFA Hall of Fame 2023 as a “Friend of Industry.” Thank you to the BCRFA for this incredible evening celebrating true industry leaders and I send my sincere congratulations to all of the inductees!” 

About the BCRFA Hall of Fame

An initiative of the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame is a celebration of the people and the restaurants that make our industry world class. Since 2004, the innovation and dedication of outstanding individuals has been celebrated through their admission into the only Restaurant Hall of Fame in Canada.

For more information, please visit:

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Waitress adding a new order with a tablet

Important information regarding operating outside of Food Primary license purpose

We are sharing some important information with you that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch sent out October 18, 2023.

Rising Tide is strongly opposed to this initiative at this time when our Industry is faced with so many other challenges. If you would like guidance with how to set your Food Primary establishment up for success in the face of this new action, please reach out to us. We are here to help!

Read the LCRB communication here:

Dear licensee,

We want to let you know that Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) inspectors are now visiting Food Primary (FP) establishments across the province to help identify instances of “Operating Outside of Licence Purpose.” This means operating a restaurant without a primary focus on the service of food, like a bar or nightclub.

As you know, FP licences are issued to businesses whose primary purpose is food service. Liquor sales are intended to complement the dining experience and not be the primary activity.

Operating any section of your FP establishment as a bar or nightclub, where the primary activity is the service of alcohol, is contrary to the public interest and constitutes a serious violation.

Why? Unlike Liquor Primary (LP) licences, which require public and local government or First Nation input, FP licences don’t have the same requirement. Securing a liquor licence for a restaurant and then operating any section of your establishment as a bar or nightclub, where the primary activity is the service of alcohol and not food, circumvents that important process. Establishments that operate outside of their primary purpose can become focal points for community complaints, including disturbances related to noise, unruly behaviour, and intoxicated patrons.

This inspection program is meant to ensure licensees are following the regulations associated with their specific licence category. If non-compliance is identified, the LCRB may find it necessary to institute enforcement measures, including:

  • monetary penalties ranging from $7 000 to $11 000 or,
  • a licence suspension of 7-11 days.

We want to remind all licensees of their responsibility to ensure that every facet of your service area follows the definition of an FP establishment when serving liquor. This means you must comply with the following requirements outlined in your licensee handbook:

Kitchen equipment:

The kitchen must be fully equipped to produce food on your full menu and must be open and staffed whenever liquor is served.


The menu must include a reasonable variety of appetizers and main courses, which must be available whenever liquor is available. Serving salsa, chips, peanuts, and other types of “finger food” is not enough to meet this requirement.

• Furnishings and lighting:

The décor must be suitable for dining and table service. You must have enough tables, chairs and food service equipment (glasses, plates, etc.) to serve full meals to patrons.

Entertainment and games:

Any entertainment and games offered must not distract from the service of food (see “Entertainment” section for more detail).


The name of your restaurant must not mislead the public regarding your primary purpose. For example, you cannot call yourself “Joe’s Bar” but “Joe’s Bar and Grill” is acceptable as food service is also represented in the name.

Operating hours:

You must operate as a restaurant whenever you serve liquor. Restaurants cannot shift their operation to become a bar during certain hours of the day, unless you have obtained a liquor primary licence, which enables you to operate your establishment as a bar when it is not operating as a restaurant.

Financial records:

You must make all financial records and receipts available for review upon request. Your financial records must demonstrate that your restaurant is involved primarily in food service.


Your advertising may not primarily focus on liquor service or entertainment in your establishment. This includes but is not limited to, online advertising, social media, signage, menu, and any associated material.

Our main goal is to maintain established standards within the industry. We hope to work together with all licensees to achieve these goals. Your cooperation is essential in ensuring a fair and compliant environment for everyone involved.

If you have any questions about your licence or these requirements, please reach out to the client support team at

Thank you,

Liquor Policy and Communications

Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General


  • The LCRB recognizes most Food Primary (FP) licensees are already operating in compliance with their licenses.
  • The purpose of the LCRB’s previous communication was to provide operators with essential information to help review their operations and ensure that their business decisions align with the compliance requirements of their licence type.
  • The LCRB is committed to supporting all operators in maintaining compliance and making informed business choices that benefit their establishments.
  • The LCRB will employ a wide variety of criteria to inform the program and where inspections take place, considering factors like entertainment, advertising, customer complaints, and other relevant aspects of FP operations.
  • It’s important to note that banquets and events like weddings are not within the scope of this inspection program. This initiative primarily focuses on the day-to-day operations of Food Primary (FP) establishments.
  • The inspection program is designed to work collaboratively with licensees, offering support and guidance to help ensure compliance. Enforcement action may be initiated for egregious instances of non-compliance or where other efforts have not achieved voluntary compliance.
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Hospitality Sector Working Group Quick Wins and Strategic Priorities Propel Industry Forward

Rising Tide Consultants is proud to be a member of the Hospitality Sector Working Group and is happy to share this News Release from the City of Vancouver documenting the progress to date. We will continue to act on behalf of our clients to ensure real change is occurring in the best interest of the industry.


City of Vancouver

News Release

October 3, 2023

Hospitality Sector Working Group quick wins and strategic priorities propel industry forward

Less than three months since the City established the Hospitality Sector Working Group, it has become a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, spearheading important changes by breaking down barriers and streamlining processes. 

“The hospitality sector is a cornerstone of our city’s economy,” says Mayor Ken Sim. “I am proud of our proactive approach to listening and responding to the sector’s needs. We’re here to listen, learn, and work hand in hand with the industry. Together with industry leaders, we are removing barriers and creating a more supportive and prosperous environment for local businesses while enhancing the experience for residents and visitors.”

The City has made significant strides in implementing recommendations from the working group, such as simplifying processes so businesses can focus on innovation and growth. These include:

  1. Streamlined liquor licensing: businesses can now submit development permits and liquor licensing applications together as concurrent applications. 
  2. Simplified business licencing process for restaurants: applications for a new restaurant business licence can now be submitted at the same time as a development permit and liquor licensing applications.
  3. Enhanced occupancy load process: floor plans can now be submitted with seating calculations to determine occupancy load, allowing fire occupancy load permits and development permits to be approved simultaneously.

“Having a direct link between industry, Council, and City staff allows us to quickly implement smart, innovative solutions to support Vancouver’s hospitality industry,” said Jeff Guignard, Executive Director of BC’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees—an association representing BC’s pubs, bars, nightclubs, and private liquor stores. “Our focus in the coming months will be to find practical and meaningful solutions to reduce red tape, cut costly delays, and give industry the tools it needs to prosper.”

In consultation with the working group, the City will be actively exploring creative solutions to enhance Vancouver’s hospitality scene, including restaurants, bars and pubs, breweries and distilleries, and tourism-related services. 

“Vancouver’s hospitality sector is an integral part of both the economic and cultural fabric of our city, and the establishment of the hospitality working group indicates a much needed focus and prioritization of the industry,” said Hospitality Vancouver Association (HVA) spokesperson Laura Ballance. “The membership of HVA is looking forward to working in a collaborative nature with City officials and staff on issues facing the sector.” 

Among the priorities identified for future work, the working group will help inform the City’s ongoing efforts, including:

  1. Identifying opportunities to streamline and resolve provincial and municipal liquor licensing timelines.
  2. Exploring options to reduce or remove distancing requirements for liquor establishments to increase opportunities for new and existing businesses.
  3. Reviewing the City’s year-round patio program to support a vibrant restaurant scene in Vancouver.
  4. Evaluating options to simplify regulations related to tasting lounges at breweries and distilleries so that businesses have clarity and can better promote their brand.

“We’ve had some remarkable quick wins, but there’s still lots of work to do,” says Andrea Law, General Manager of Development and Business Licensing. “Together with the working group, the City is committed to finding practical solutions to challenges faced by businesses in the hospitality sector. Our approach to collaboration is grounded in deep respect for the many local entrepreneurs and businesses that form Vancouver’s diverse hospitality scene.”  

The City will provide updates on the working group through a designated Hospitality Sector Working Group web page, which also hosts valuable resources for business owners.

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Dugald Smith, former Deputy General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, joins Rising Tide Consultants as Senior Licensing Consultant.

Dugald Smith, former Deputy General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, joins Rising Tide Consultants as Senior Licensing Consultant.

“In my career as a regulator, finding opportunities to support the industry and small businesses has always been the best part of the job. I look forward to working with Bert Hick and his team in helping licensees and applicants to navigate the regulatory environment and find solutions to their business challenges.” – Dugald Smith

Dugald joins Rising Tide from the Provincial Government having spent the latter part of his career with the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). His formal education includes a Bachelor of Science and a Certificate in Business and Management.

Before joining the LCRB, Dugald worked as an Executive Director with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, where he played a key role in negotiating various agreements with First Nations, including the Maa nutlh and T’lamin treaties. 

With the LCRB over the past six years, Dugald has held several leadership roles, including Deputy General Manager of Licensing and Executive Director responsible for Programs and Strategy. He also was the Project Director on the development of the Cannabis Retail Store licensing framework, leading the implementation of the regulatory, policy and operational programs.

Dugald has significant senior experience in liquor policy and licensing operations at an executive level and brings unique insights into the legal cannabis industry, regulatory challenges and opportunities this industry faces. 

“I am honoured and thrilled that Dugald Smith has joined the Rising Tide team and we are very much looking forward to working with him for years to come.

When I first met Dugald years ago, it was in a meeting with the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch officials. We had an instant likeness and respect for each other. Over the years when Dugald was the Acting General Manager of the Branch, we would agree on some applications and policy issues and at times, it was a compromise. On a few issues, it was a case of “agree to disagree.” He was the regulator and I was the consultant pushing the boundaries. However, we always respected our different perspectives and regulatory limitations.

Dugald brings to Rising Tide a wealth of experience and knowledge which will becombined with my 35 years of consulting experience and previous experience as the General Manager of the Liquor Branch to further serve our clients and expand our horizons.

I look forward to introducing Dugald as he transitions to the private sector and thewonderful world of licensing from our side of the street!” Bert Hick -President & Founder, Rising Tide Consultants
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’No Fun City’ No More: Mayor Sim promises policy changes for hospitality sector

New City of Vancouver hospitality working group to address longstanding policy issues

“I am very pleased to see that the City of Vancouver is committed to real change for the hospitality industry. It is an honour to be a part of this working group and I look forward to the collaborative effort to streamline processes and eliminate costly delays. We are all committed to seeing progress and advancement with antiquated laws and regulations that need to be updated. I wish to thank Mayor Ken Sim and the Vancouver City Councillors for their support in taking a hard look at longstanding policy issues that have challenged so many of our clients.” – Bert Hick, President & Founder – Rising Tide Consultants

For Immediate Release
June 14th, 2023

Vancouver, BC – On Friday, Mayor Ken Sim was joined by members of Vancouver City Council and representatives from the hospitality sector to announce the creation of a new City of Vancouver hospitality sector working group.

“With today’s announcement of a new hospitality working group, we have an opportunity to help create a better, more vibrant, and prosperous future for our local economy,” said Councillor Lisa Dominato. “We’ve heard a clear demand for policy change from local businesses and this working group is an important first step.”
The working group is a City-staff led initiative, overseen by the Development, Building, and Licensing department. Its members include city staff and representatives from the hospitality sector. The working group’s goals are to identify, adjust, and eliminate red tape that present challenges to businesses in the sector.

“The hospitality sector is critical to the local economy,” continued Dominato. “That’s why the City is inviting members of the hospitality industry to participate in this collaborative working group, with a clear goal of making life easier for our local businesses.

While certain recommendations from the working group may require Council approval, the direct link between industry and City staff will allow policy change to occur at a faster rate.

“Vancouver is open for business and its time for our City to lose its “no fun” reputation once and for all,” said Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim. “We all want to see these businesses succeed and we want the City of Vancouver to play a big role in helping make that happen.”
The working group has informally met once already and will continue to meet throughout the summer with the goal of providing an update in the Fall on progress being made.

Media Contact:

Taylor Verrall

Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor


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