September 02, 2015 - 9:00 PM
VERNON - A Vernon restaurant and sports bar is turning its focus from those who go out, to those who stay in.
Monashee’s Bar & Grill on 30 Avenue in downtown Vernon will welcome patrons for a pint for the last time this weekend, but it’s not turning its back on them completely. Owner Steve Paul says the adjacent 30 Street Liquor Store is being expanded into the space.
“The days are gone of going to the bar to watch a hockey game because it has the biggest TV and has pay per view. That’s all right in people’s houses now, they don’t need to go out anymore,” Paul says.
With the cost of beef and other foods on the rise, he also understands that meal prices are becoming too expensive for people.
“By the time I buy my beef and vegetables, I have to charge $50 for a steak dinner. That’s not going to fly in Vernon,” he says.
Other challenges impacting the restaurant business are B.C.’s strict drinking and driving laws, the addition of a seven per cent tax to meals, and a labour shortage, Paul says. On top of those things, he says there are too many restaurants in Vernon, and not enough people going out to support them.
“We’ve seen 30 new restaurants in Vernon over the last five years and we’ve seen the population of 20- to 40-year-olds decline because there’s no work in this town,” Paul says. “(The restaurant scene) is just not supported. If you go out for dinner three to four times a year, that’s not enough to make a business viable.”
Meanwhile, liquor store sales are doing well and the take out pizza service — which will remain business as usual — is booming.
“I’m going to focus on what works,” Paul says.
He says he’s not the only pub in the Okanagan going this route. At least five other bars that he knows of are also transitioning into liquor stores, he says.
People can expect to see some construction activity at the property in the near future as the old liquor store is torn down and turned into a bigger parking lot and the new space is renovated.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015