By David F. Rooney
Benoit Doucet, the man whose dream of opening a civilized wine bar for civilized people was shot down by City Council Tuesday, isn’t folding his tent and leaving town. After spending years working to realize his dream business, he’s fighting back.
Doucet is gathering signatures on a petition from people who support his idea for a wine bar in town. Within just a few hours Thursday he gathered almost 100 signatures and he could have hundreds more by Monday. You can find his petition at Mountain Goodness, the Modern, Conversations, Mountain Meals, The Talisman, Grizzly Books, Castle Joe Books, Flowt, the Woolsey Creek cafe, Conversations coffee shop, the Roxy Theater, Royal Lepage, the Last Drop pub and Revelstoke U-Brew.
“It just blows my mind,” he said of Council’s decision, which it reached after it received a 110-signature petition that was based on faulty information. Please go here to see the previous story)
“I’ve been working on this business idea for three years. I’m just one or two months away from opening.”
All told, Doucet, a French native who has lived in Revelstoke for the last six years, has spent almost $230,000 on the venture. He bought the building at 107 Second Street East — the old Spice O’ Life location — for $210,000 and has invested about $20,000 in improving the second-floor apartment where he lives. He has been busy gutting the ground-floor commercial space and designing its new layout. While it looks pretty rough right now, about all it needs now are a new floor, drywall, paint, a ceiling, new wiring, and a kitchen and bathrooms installed.
That’s if Council will reconsider its decision. While liquor licences are actually issued by BC’s Liquor Control and Licencing Branch, Council approval is crucial. Without it Doucet will almost certainly not be granted a licence. Then he would have to wait two years before he could re-apply.
Doucet didn’t find out until Wednesday that his request for a liquor primary licence had been turned down. Council said no after it received a 110-signature petition that claimed another bar would result in property damage, garbage in the streets, loud noise and increased parking pressures. It would be interesting to know where anyone got those ideas. The RCMP, the Fire Department, Public Works and other agencies did not see a wine bar as posing a problem for anyone.
The police have had to break up fights and other altercations at city pubs in recent months but those have all been the usual beer and booze joints frequented by an entirely different kind of crowd.
Benoit’s Wine Bar would seat, at most, 60 people who would be shelling out between $6 and $60 a glass for fine wine in a quiet atmosphere. That’s hardly the kind of establishment that’s going to attract the knuckleheads who like to get drunk, have a fight and then maybe smash a few windows or trees while they stumble around looking for a place to barf.
Councillors also said they were afraid that Doucet might change the nature of his business and turn it into a pub, instead. Doucet scoffs at that.
“There are more than enough pubs in town,” he said. “Wine is what I know. Wine is what I’m trained for.”
He said Benoit’s Wine Bar will attract not only European tourists looking for a quiet glass after a day’s skiing or hiking but all the local residents who want a civilized place they can take a date.
And there are plenty of people like that out there.