No gaming at new video game bar: ministry
Published Thursday, August 23, 2012 5:50PM PDT
A design concept for the EXP video game bar is seen in this undated image. (CTV)
B.C.’s first-ever video game bar is opening this weekend -- but thanks to the province’s rigid liquor laws, customers won’t actually be able to play games at all.
Brian Vidovic intended for his new restaurant and bar on Hornby Street, called EXP, to be a place where patrons could play video games and enjoy themed-food, booze and music. The concept quickly garnered attention, excitement and more than 2,500 likes on its Facebook page
But it wasn’t long before Vidovic came up against a liquor licensing barrier to his grand plan.
“We are not allowed to have any video game consoles in our space,” said Vidovic. “And the way that they worded it… that could mean anything from an iPod, an iPhone or even an iPad.”
According to B.C. liquor licensing laws, the primary focus for food-primary restaurants must always be on the service of food. That means if Vidovic wants to avoid a liquor-primary licence and the expensive price tag that goes with it, he can’t have video games at the table.
“Adding gaming consoles shifts the primary focus away from food,” said spokeswoman for the ministry in charge of liquor licensing, Cindy Stephenson. “For that reason, a restaurant with a liquor licence cannot make gaming consoles available for patrons.”
For now, Vidovic is pushing ahead with the grand opening and will offer video game-themed food and music, without the games themselves. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop fighting.
“We told them we’ll comply for now, but we’ll start a campaign against you.”
Vidovic has followed through with that promise and has already started an online petition that has garnered more than 4,500 signatures.
He’s also convinced three MLAs to write letters supporting him to the provincial minister responsible for liquor, Rich Coleman. Vidovic says Coleman has yet to reply to the letters, sent over two months ago.
The ministry has been known to budge on similar cases in the past -- including recently giving the Rio Theatre the right to serve beer during movies -- but is so far remaining fixed on their current stance.
“The province has no plans to change the regulations at this time,” said Stephenson.
Vidovic maintains that the laws should be able to be fixed fairly quickly.
“We have logic on our side,” he said. “There are worse things going on in the city every day than people playing video games.”
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Nafeesa Karim
Have your say: Should people be able to play video games at a restaurant?