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:
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 LCRBLiquor@gov.bc.ca.
Liquor Policy and Communications
Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch
Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
UPDATED INFORMATION FROM THE LCRB OCTOBER 24, 2023:
- 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.