Bar blames financial difficulties

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A Queenstown bar has made a flurry of changes in the hope of renewing its liquor licence.

Badger Bars Ltd pleaded its case to the Queenstown Lakes district’s licensing committee on Monday to renew the on-licence for Church St bar Vinyl Underground.

But a raft of issues were raised at the hearing – including objections over food, noise and customer intoxication issues. 

Badger Bars director Ben Calder blames financial difficulties for what is described as potential breaches of its liquor licence. 

As the clock ticked closer to Monday’s hearing, Badger Bars spent $4000 on an acoustic assessment, improved its in-house menu to include ”gourmet toasties” and erected signs to remind customers to limit noise.

It has asked its security contractor, Allied Security, to provide its best and most experienced staff for Vinyl Underground.

It now spends more than 10% of its weekly turnover on security.

Calder says: “This demonstrates how seriously we take security.”

Vinyl Underground sparked dozens of complaints about noise – many from neighbouring luxury hotel, The Spire.

It averaged four complaints a week in November. But Calder says most were unjustified. 

The bar was criticised by police, the medical officer of health and the council for its minimal on-site menu, including pies bought from a nearby shop, the lack of promotion of its in-house food and how long it took to bring the menu up to standard.

The first nine months of business were “immensely difficult financially”, Calder says. 

At the hearing Calder, who also runs pub-crawl company Big Night Out, couldn’t remember what the intoxication assessment acronym SCAB stands for – speech, coordination, appearance and behaviour.

He also couldn’t regurgitate the object of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act – but in his defence, he doesn’t hold a manager’s certificate. He says he’s no expert and complained of attempts to “stump me on terminology”.

Calder says Vinyl Underground concentrates on live music and is now many people’s favourite bar in town.

“There are times when we could have done better – we’ve learned from them and grown as operators.”

The committee reserved its decision.