March 8, 2018 3:43 pm
Updated: March 9, 2018 1:08 pm

Alberta spas, salons and barbershops can now apply for liquor licences: AGLC

WACTH: Alberta spas, bars and barbershops can now apply to serve alcohol in Alberta. As Christa Dao reports, this comes as a relief to a Calgary spa owner who says she’s received mixed messages in the past.

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Pinot with your pedicure? Effective immediately, spas, salons and barbershops are eligible to apply for a liquor licence from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). The AGLC confirmed the change to Global News on Thursday after Finance Minister Joe Ceci tweeted the situation had been “resolved.”

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“We are always working with industry to see how we can modernize policies to meet new and emerging business opportunities,” Michelle Hynes-Dawson said in an emailed statement. “We have heard from a number of interested business people over the past couple of years who were in support of this change.”

Leading the charge was Lisa Maric, owner of Distilled Beauty Bar & Social House. Her business in the Marda Loop neighbourhood of Calgary is part salon, part bar, part coffee house.
She received a liquor licence from the AGLC before opening her doors in January 2017 – and it was renewed this past January – before finding out in late February that the licence had been issued in error.

LISTEN: Lisa Maric speaks with Global News Radio 770 CHQR host Rob Breakenridge

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“It was stressful for the team because [serving liquor] does represent a uniqueness about us and something that we take pretty seriously,” Maric said on Thursday afternoon. “To be quite honest, it was very stressful from the moment it happened and then over the days when we started to see the support, I thought, ‘No, I think this is going to be OK.'”

Maric said Ceci called her Thursday morning to let her know about the changes to the licence rules and she was immediately, “pretty excited and overwhelmed” that her business – and her supporters – were so crucial in making a major change.

“If you were close to Distilled this morning, you would have heard a ‘Woohoo!’” Maric laughed. “My staff was high-fiving all around. We were pretty excited.”

It’s welcome news for Calgary’s Bike and Brew. The business is trying to break into the booze business.

The shop is a mixed-use retail shop, servicing and selling bikes but also doubling as a café.

“We wanted [the store] to be open where you can come in and have a beer and look at your bikes while your bike is getting serviced,” co-owner Weston Covert said.

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According to Covert, the shop had applied several times for a liquor licence for the café side but had been denied by the AGLC.

“Some of the reasons had been that we are a mixed-use business, being that we are a retail shop that also has a café in it,” he said.

“The AGLC is a little unsure of what to do when you have two mixed uses because generally you’re a retail or you’re a bar or restaurant and we are trying to combine the two,” he said.

LISTEN: Licensed salon owner Craig Boa joins 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen

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Covert said he was excited about the news on Thursday, hoping the government will continue expanding to other types of mixed-use businesses.

“I feel there’s a lot of similarities between what [Distilled Beauty Bar] is doing and what we’re doing. They’re providing a service and so are we.”

Like a restaurant or a bar, any salon, spa or barbershop would have to apply for what’s known as a class B licence.

“This is not a new type of licence, so the process is existing and well-established,” Hynes-Dawson said.

The applicant must meet a number of requirements, like offering esthetic services, meeting municipal safety codes, offering hot or cold food and ensuring staff members serving liquor have completed the ProServe training certification.

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