The road to opening a Stanley Park Brewing Company restaurant in the former Fish House spot in Vancouver's iconic Stanley Park has been--and remains--long, but the Park Board affirms the project is still a go.
The Fish House close in 2015, stunning many who had come to rely upon the quaint charms of the seafood-centric spot as a go-to special occasion destination.
Initially a North Shore restaurant business had their eyes on the spot, but the partnership with the Park Board didn't come to fruition. In 2016 the Board accepted a proposal from Stanley Park Brewing to put a brewpub-style restaurant on the site. And then the wait began.
The proposed business seems logical--an onsite microbrewery in a city known for craft beer by a business that shares its name with the historic park. However there have been numerous complications and concerns raised from various contingencies.
One objection has been focused on the notion of glorifying drinking in a the family-friendly park space; one such group, Stanley Park Advocates, is about not bringing the pub into the park. (Check out this video they put out.)
Then there are those who dislike the company making the beer. This is an an objection to Stanley Park the place linking arms with Stanley Park the brewer, the latter of which is actually one smaller cog in the larger machinery of Labatt, which is owned by AB InBev, and the "AB" stands for...Anheuseur-Busch.
Lastly, there's the camp that has ecological concerns, namely about the heron population in the park.
On Monday night, the Park Board hoped to put an end to as many concerns as possible, while affirming that the brewery-restaurant project is still going to happen, with a projected Fall 2018 opening.
In a release, the Park Board points out that there has been a restaurant at this location since 1949 (and they served alcohol), and there "will be no change to the building footprint in the new restaurant."
Renovation plans are sensitive to the building and its decks, and that the brewing operations will be fully contained within the existing building. There will be no live entertainment or events on the decks, and the renovation includes new insulation and double pane windows.
Additionally, the Park Board says the operations of the forthcoming Stanley Park Brewing restaurant can be easily considered as being similar to those of other properties like Cactus Club on English Bay, Stanley’s Bar and Grill in Stanley Park and the Boat House at Kitsilano Beach--all in the Park Board portfolio.
The Park Board doesn't touch the beer lovers' objections to the brewer in question being part of a larger corporate entity.
And the herons. They're going to be okay, according to experts.
“Our partners at the Stanley Park Ecology Society have reassured our Board that the magnificent Pacific Great Blue heron colony at 2099 Beach Avenue will not be harmed by the careful and continuing use of this space as a restaurant," notes Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.
In fact, when it comes to saving the herons, the SPES is more worried about people using their drones in the park than they are about a new restaurant taking over operations of a site that's had a restaurant for nearly 70 years.
“I am confident that we can deliver a restaurant at this historic location in a way that is completely consistent with our mission and mandate to protect and preserve parks and green space in the City of Vancouver,” said Mackinnon.
The next hurdle: More licensing.
On January 17, City staff are expected to present their endorsement of a Limited Liquor Primary License to facilitate growler re-fills for the restaurant.