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Happy Hour in Prince Rupert

Jonelle Wickstrom of Breakers Pub prepared a glass for a customer last week.  - Kevin Campbell
Jonelle Wickstrom of Breakers Pub prepared a glass for a customer last week.
— image credit: Kevin Campbell

Happy hour may have arrived at B.C. pubs and restaurants, allowing them to discount prices of alcoholic beverages early in the day, but it seems it’s business as usual so far for Prince Rupert establishments.

Both Breakers Pub and the Ocean View Restaurant haven’t needed to change their pricing for alcoholic drinks to meet the new minimum standards for sleeves, pints and pitchers of beer.

“We’ve never had anything that’s under the minimum, so I mean we’re not the cheapest place in town, we’re not the most expensive place in town ... but that’s the reality. You’re dealing with the government,” said Breakers’ owner Joanne Sylvester.

“It’s more for the Lower Mainland pubs where there’s a concentration of a number of drinking establishments to draw people in. It’s some kind of enticement; get people in and then hopefully they can stay after happy hour ... But is it going to bring me any more business? I put on pretty good specials right now, I really don’t think so.”

The new liquor laws the government of B.C. has handed down has necessitated licensed establishments to charge at least $3 for a 12-ounce sleeve of beer or cider, $5 for a 20-ounce pint of beer or cider and $15 for a pitcher. Breakers and the Ocean View aren’t affected by the pricing changes.

The law also allows patrons to order drinks without food, but the establishment still needs to offer a full food menu.

“I wouldn’t say a lot but there’s a general amount of people who come in that don’t eat. Ten o’clock in the morning sometimes they just come in for their ‘hair of the dog’ but for the most part I would say 75 per cent of our customers eat,” said Holley Minger, manager of the Ocean View.

Sylvester has positioned Breakers as an eatery, as well as a pub.

“We’re a pub so there is [a number of people that come without ordering food] but our food sales are substantial so clearly you make more money on the booze, so it would be nice if it were like the old days but they’re not like that anymore and we realize that and it’s safer for the public because they’re eating and they’re drinking but we’ve adapted where we’re more of a restaurant now and restaurants have that ability too; [the customers] don’t have to eat,” said Sylvester.

For the Ocean View, Minger anticipates creating a happy hour menu with owner Don McNeil.

“It’s something we will think about in the future. I would like to do some kind of happy hour ‘appy (appetizer) hour’, that kind of thing.”

Children are allowed in pubs and bars until 10 p.m. as long as they’re supervised, but both owners say that’s not an area they’d like to explore.

“When I go into a pub I expect to not be able to hear a screaming child and most of my customers are that way so that’s fine, I’m not going to allow kids,” said Sylvester.

Minger doesn’t allow kids in the pub area as well.

“The language and the volume can get loud and I personally don’t want to have to start worrying about the parents, saying ‘OK you’ve got to keep your customers quiet because we’ve got our kids here’ so that’s one of the main reasons why we decided not to do it,” said Minger.

Customers can now move their drinks from one adjoining licenced area to another, which is helpful for the Ocean View’s patio.

“How we have it set up, the [deck] is our liquor primary licence rather than our food primary license so people are now allowed to sit on the deck and have their cigarette or drink without having to have a meal,” said Minger.

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