The Irish Times will again be pulling pints today after a four-day hiatus.
The high-profile filling station on Government Street had its liquor licence suspended for four days this month after the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch found the pub had been guilty of overcrowding on March 17 - which happened to be St. Patrick's Day.
In a written decision, Dianne Flood, the enforcement hearing adjudicator, noted the licensee admitted the overcrowding occurred without intent "but also without offering any evidence of the steps taken to avoid it on St. Patrick's Day, one of the very busiest days of the year for downtown pubs and especially for one bearing the name that this one does."
In his submissions to the hearing, Matt MacNeil, owner of the Irish Times, conceded that the infraction occurred. But he argued the penalty of suspending the licence should have been scrapped in favour of a fine as that would not punish his staff who rely on wages and tips.
Flood disagreed, noting the overcrowding was extensive - between 80 and 100 people beyond the bar's 250-person capacity - and as an experienced licensee MacNeil ought to have anticipated the potential for overcrowding.
Flood did note there was no record of similar contraventions, so she stuck with the low end of the scale in terms of suspension. The regulations allow for a suspension of four to seven days and a fine of between $5,000 and $7,000 for a first overcrowding offence.
A second contravention could result in a suspension of between 10 and 14 days, while subsequent contraventions carry the possibility of a suspension between 18 to 20 days.
As a result, the Irish Times licence was suspended from the end of business Nov. 2 until last night.
The Times was not the only Victoria establishment to feel the wrath of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch this year.
The Coachman Inn, also known as the Upper Deck Sports Lounge at 229 Gorge Rd., was closed for one day, Nov. 3, stemming from an overcrowding incident that took place in November last year. The branch's hearing concluded the bar's capacity of 118 patrons was exceeded by as many as 41 people.
The Monkey Tree Pub, 4025 Borden St. in Saanich, was also handed a four-day suspension for overcrowding this year after its 116-person capacity was pushed to as many as 141 in February.
The pub adhered to that order in September.
According to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch's most recent enforcement summary report that details all fines and suspensions handed out through to the end of July of this year, both the Tudor House and Waddling Dog were fined $7,500 for selling liquor to a minor, while the Brickyard on Yates Street was fined $1,000 for exceeding the maximum drink size.
The report also noted Peacock Billiards had its licence suspended for 10 days earlier this year for operating as a bar on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, when it is licensed as a restaurant.
The penalty was served June 16-25.
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