March 9, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 82  

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Ontario government to allow BYOB for restaurants?

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

BYOB may no longer be something you only hear before house parties and bush bashes, because the Ontario government might allow restaurant patrons to bring their own booze for meals.

Jim Watson, the Ontario Minister of Business and Consumer Services is holding consultations with various groups in consideration for a change in the province’s liquor laws to allow outside alcohol to be brought into restaurants, confirmed Rui Estevoa, Watson’s press secretary

The proposed plan would see patrons paying only a modest “corking fee” by the restaurant, he said.

Watson will meet with representatives from various stake holders, such as restaurant and hotel groups, family groups and even the beer lobby, Estevoa explained. “There are a few that have concerns; we’re doing our best on addressing those concerns,” he added.

“I’m 80 per cent sure the [Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario] isn’t a stake holder,” he said, adding he was unsure why the AGCO was being excluded.

“It’s a terrible idea. I can’t imagine if that would come to fruition,” said Jeff Armour, site manager of The Wave.

According to Armour, the proposal raises a host of issues, ranging from keeping track of the amount of alcohol the customers have consumed to the problem of curbing underage drinking.

“It’ll be abused. As soon as they open that hole, every student and his brother will be bringing in a bottle of cooking sherry,” he said, adding that even if the law allows only wine, and prohibits spirits and beer, it would still pose problems.

Michelle King, a waitress at a local Kelsey’s restaurant, echoed some of Armour’s sentiments, but pointed out the problems it would pose to sales. “In my opinion, I think it’s a bad idea. It would bring sales down because it’ll fill people up.”

Not only would the new policy hurt food and drink sales, but tips for servers would also be adversely affected because restaurant goers would require less of their services, she added.

“I don’t think it’s really appropriate. If they’re going to the restaurant they should be provided with the wine,” said fourth-year French student Georgia Korstanji. “I just don’t think it’s classy, not that I’m a snob.”

“It’s a great idea — I don’t think it’ll change anything. I don’t drink when I’m at restaurants,” explained Belinda Bank, a second-year geography student, noting concern over the cost of the corking fee.



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