A Burnaby Cactus Club has been fined $1,000 for violating liquor control laws thanks to two women who were allowed to knock back one bottle of wine and order another before ordering any food.
The pair got to the Market Crossing Cactus Club at about 7 p.m. on Nov. 19, 2021 and were served a 750 millilitre bottle of wine, according to a ruling by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch Wednesday.
Over the next hour and 40 minutes, the server returned three times to ask about their food order, but the women said they would order later.
“They said they were busy having a conversation,” states the ruling.
They ordered and were served another bottle at about 8:40 p.m., but still didn’t order any food.
“At all times, the server believed from the patrons’ statements and actions that they intended to order food,” states the ruling. “The server had never had any patrons say they were going to order food and then not order.”
By 10:15 p.m., however, the women still hadn’t ordered food, when two Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch inspectors showed up for a routine inspection.
They spotted the two patrons sitting at a table with two glasses, a 750 ml bottle of wine and no sign of food in sight.
From the bill and information gleaned from the manager, the inspectors determined the women had been served two bottles of wine and no food in three hours and 19 minutes.
That’s a no-no for food-primary establishments, which are required under the terms of their licences not to serve liquor without food.
The inspectors said they were going to issue a contravention notice against the restaurant, but the manager argued the women’s dining experience hadn’t ended yet.
Only after the inspectors left did they decide to order a plate of spicy chicken.
“At that time, the second bottle of wine was still one-half full,” states the ruling.
It was still a quarter full at 12:34 a.m., shortly before the women left.
At a hearing into the matter last month, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch argued the restaurant had failed to comply with the terms and conditions of its licence, especially when it served the women the second bottle.
The restaurant argued the terms and conditions don’t specify when the food must be ordered as long as it is ordered at some time during service – and it was.
The restaurant also noted there was no suggestion the women were drunk or otherwise over-served.
In the end, however, Dianne Flood, a delegate of the general manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, ruled the Cactus Club had contravened the terms and conditions of its licence.
Flood acknowledged the terms and conditions don’t set out a specific time within which food has to accompany a bottle of wine, but they do say wine has to be consumed with food.
It might be reasonable to allow one bottle of wine to be ordered and served to two patrons before they order food, according to Flood, but their intention “must be ascertained.”
“The patrons’ simple stated intent to order, or the server’s belief in the patrons’ intent to order, is not sufficient at this stage of the dining experience,” she said.
Flood ordered Cactus Club to pay a $1,000 fine and put up a notice at the restaurant saying it has been sanctioned.