A local eatery is pursuing a liquor licence to help make up for inflated food costs.
Natalie Sorkilmo, owner of Bus Stop Bistro in Sicamous, submitted a letter to council asking for support for the business’ food primary application for a liquor licence.
The letter, received by council at its June 14 meeting, reads, “My understanding from the inspector is that there will likely be some hesitancy from the licensing board due to the fact that the application is coming in with the kitchen being a mobile unit.” Councillors expressed concern about that detail as well.
Coun. Ian Baillie, a restaurant owner himself who said he has lots of experience with the liquor licensing process, said mobile units like food trucks are not usually granted licences and said although he understands Sorkilmo expressed she has no intention of moving the Bus Stop, it would be difficult for council to provide a letter of support knowing it’s not a liquor primary application. He added it would set a precedent and council could be asked to change the rules for other similar businesses.
Baillie listed the requirements he has dealt with in applying for liquor licences, such as providing how many patrons are allowed in the establishment at any time, the exact area where tables are located, how many people sit at each table, lines of sight and bathroom facilities. He also mentioned places with food primary licences generally need to serve more food than liquor, and have table service rather than patrons ordering at the bar and bringing drinks to their own tables. The Bus Stop Bistro could have difficulty fitting these requirements, he cautioned, although he said he wanted to see Sorkilmo get the licence in the end.
In the letter, Sorkilmo said the business is “committed and invested” at its address at 109 Finlayson, “as long as the district will have us as a tenant and/or until until we can make purchase under our right to first refusal should the District be amenable to sale of the property in the future.”
Sorkilmo also noted the truck itself isn’t currently road-worthy, and that she has made improvements to the property, paid for at the Bus Stop’s expense, showing the business has potential extended interest in staying.
The letter stresses the financial challenges the business faces, paying for staff and inflated food costs, and seeing an imbalance with the Bus Stop’s capabilities to make and sell enough product. Alcohol sales would help offset those lost margins, said Sorkilmo in the letter.
With a plan to extend hours on weekends, mindful of noise and operational hours, Sorkilmo ultimately asked council to clarify her points to the liquor licensing board and lend their support to the Bus Stop Bistro.
Mayor Colleen Anderson noted the property is completely fenced in and owned by the district, so she said Sorkilmo’s ask was reasonable, although it’s an unusual situation.
Since the licence is applied to the location and not the business, as Baillie confirmed in the meeting, if Sorkilmo did move the truck, she would be operating unlicensed. As the district owns the land, council said they would feel comfortable with the licence being granted.
Council decided to offer a letter that confirms details of the lease, adding what the Bus Stop Bistro contributes to the Sicamous community, instead of a letter expressing explicit support to the licensing board.
More information can be found under The Bus Stop Bistro on restaurantji.com.