B.C. karaoke bar accused of letting staff drink wins case | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. karaoke bar accused of letting staff drink wins case

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A B.C. karaoke bar has avoided a $1,000 fine after B.C. liquor inspectors accused the pub of letting an employee drink while working.

According to a recently released Feb. 28 B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch decision, liquor inspectors accused the Corner Lounge bar in Nanaimo of letting a doorman take a shot of liquor while on duty and proposed a $1,000 penalty or be forced to close for a day.

The night in question took place in September 2022 when two liquor inspectors conducted an inspection at the bar.

The decision says the liquor inspectors noticed an individual – referred to as WS in the document – interacting with people at the front door.

At one point WS walked over to the bar and gestured to the bartender. Then with his back to the liquor inspectors, he took a shot of Southern Comfort and Amaretto.

Without identifying himself, an inspector then asked WS if he was security for the bar and if he received free drinks for his work.

"WS answered in the affirmative to both of these questions," the decision reads. "Later, one of the inspectors observed WS at the front door of the facility checking the identification of patrons... he was also observed to walk behind the service area of the bar several times to drink from a cup located there."

The liquor inspectors then identified themselves and issued the bar's owner, Kenny Chung, with a Notice of Enforcement Action.

The alleged infraction went to a hearing and the bar owner called to regulator customers, along with WS to testify.

The 7,000-word decision goes to minute details of what happened that night.

The liquor inspectors testified that WS was working the door and asking for ID. They pointed out he went into a back room to grab his cigarettes and kept a drink behind the bar and returned to drink on multiple occasions. This all suggested he was an employee.

The liquor inspectors also point out that when they asked him if he got free drinks and worked there WS had said "yes."

READ MORE: B.C. cafe shuttered after selling can of beer without food

However, Chung testified that WS wasn't an employee at all, but a homeless person who frequented the bar.

Chung said he'd paid him to paint the bar and do some carpentry work, but WS didn't work there and wasn't an employee.

The decision said two regulars also testified that WS hung around in the bar but didn't work there. One regular said they also kept belongings in the backroom, like WS, although they didn't work at the bar.

The regular customer said WS liked to talk, and they had long conversations together.

WS testified he didn't know why he told the liquor inspectors worked there on the night in question.

Chung testified that WS hung around the bar, but rarely drank, although had addiction issues and on that night was high on drugs.

The bar owner testified that he empathized with the problems that WS experienced.

Chung submitted payroll records showing that WS wasn't a staff member.

Ultimately, after lengthy testimony, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch ruled that the liquor inspectors didn't prove that WS worked at the karaoke bar and therefore was allowed to have a drink and the bar had done nothing wrong.

READ MORE: B.C. bar slapped with $19K fine after liquor inspector was delayed 7 minutes

The case was then dismissed.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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