Bar fights booze ban

By Ewen McRae

The owners of a recently opened wine bar in Caroline Springs say new restrictions on their liquor licence could make the business “unsustainable”.
The Fancy Things Wine Bar has been operating under a temporary licence since December with a closing time of 11pm, but a new licence from Melton council has mandated a 10pm closure, with last drinks called at 9.30pm.
The new licence also prohibits alcohol being served in the bar’s outdoor courtyard, and closes the courtyard at 8pm.
Owner Zoe Jones said the restrictions would place a huge strain on her business.
“We would lose 25 seats outside, out of a 60-seat capacity venue,” Ms Jones said.
“We’d have to lose junior staff members [and] reduce hours … it basically means revenue-wise we’d lose close to $2000 each day. That’s a significant amount, basically my rent.
“We followed all the usual protocols for opening a business like this, and received just one objection from a resident.
“We’ve been trading with no complaints since December, and to be honest, have had nothing but immense support from the community for something like this to open up.”
A petition to have the original operating hours reinstated has received more than 2300 signatories in a week.
Ms Jones said the support from the community had her hopeful the restrictions could be eased.
“It’s a coffee and wine bar with a mini-grand piano, not the sort of thing that we want to be running into the late night,” Ms Jones said.
“We’ve lived in Caroline Springs for 12 years now, and we’ve always wanted a place we could go for a quiet drink to unwind with mates, and we wanted to create that environment that is missing out here.
“The community have been so supportive of me opening this venue, and wishing me nothing but success, because this area needs to see new growth and new businesses, and also some variance. “We have so many amazing cafes and restaurants, it’s just nice to offer something different.”
Council planning services manager Bob Baggio said the liquor restrictions on the bar were necessary given the location.
“Fancy Things is located in a mixed use commercial and residential area,” Mr Baggio said. “Given the site’s proximity to residential apartments, it was considered that 10pm was an appropriate closing time.
“In mixed use areas, it’s important that we balance the needs of businesses and residents.”