Getting back into cooking since 2009.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Small Bars and the Town of Vincent

What does the Town of Vincent have against small bars?

Small bars have started to spring up in the couple of years since the license came into effect, but very few have been in the Town of Vincent. The council has approved a few (like The Cabin in Mt Hawthorn and Double Lucky in Leederville), but they've also knocked back several for spurious reasons.

The council's stubborn recalcitrance has become a bit of an obsession of mine, and I've developed the deeply nerdy habit of scouring the council's minutes looking for something to piss me off. This is not normal behaviour, I know, but I just can't help myself.

One of the worst cases I've found relates to a small bar that was proposed for Oxford St. The applicant wanted to open a small wine bar catering for up to 80 patrons, focusing on up-market wine and food.

The council received a petition in favour of the application, signed by 104 people. It also received a petition opposing the application, signed by eight people. Eight. The council refused the application.

Bear in mind that the building had already operated as a cafe. It's on Oxford St, near the Re Store, there's a lot of traffic. The Leederville Hotel is a few hundred metres away, as is Leederville Oval. TAFE is over the road. This isn't the middle of suburbia, it's a busy inner-city suburb. The place was going to be a small wine bar, not a rowdy pub.

Then there's another case, relating to a place just a few metres away on the corner of Oxford and Richmond Streets. This bar, Bar Rosso, was intended to be "a premium wine bar and cocktail venue with associated gourmet food". Again, not a rowdy pub. Fifteen people signed a petition against the application. It was refused, too.

I must admit that neither of these bars sound like places I'd be particularly interested in, but that's not really the point.

Why did the council refuse these applications, and a whole bunch of others? Two reasons. First of all, parking. Second, the objections of a few local cranks.


On the issue of parking: uh, what? Shouldn't people be discouraged from driving their cars to a bar?

Why does everything need to be planned around the car? David Byrne said it best: "the policy of infinite accommodation to the car needs to stop and be reversed if our cities are to survive as more than clumps of offices and parking garages."

Also, several of the proposed bars have already operated as cafes or restaurants or pool halls. Presumably people drove to those. Why does the council require more parking for a bar than for a cafe? While we're at it, where is the parking for all the big pubs (the Queens, the Leederville) that already exist?

Not in my immaculately manicured backyard

My personal favourite objection came from the guy who thought that one of the wine bars mentioned above might lure young people from the TAFE over the road (I'm not making this up, it's here). Yes, your typical 19-year old TAFE student will definitely go buy an expensive glass of Bordeaux instead of getting a jug from the Leedy a few hundred metres away.

The other objections generally amount to the time-honoured cry of "not in my backyard", to which I would reply: you live in an inner city suburb. You probably moved here because it's more "vibrant", more alive than far-off suburbia. Why try to suffocate the little glimmer of activity that is trying to poke its way to the surface?

I've never voted in local council elections. It seems a bit pointless, and I can never tell what the candidates actually stand for (it's always "the community" and "small business" and "sunshine" and "motherhood"). Maybe I should vote next time.

Anyway, apologies for the slightly off-topic rant, normal service will resume shortly. I've got an awesome recipe for slow-braised octopus that I want to share.


  1. I have to agree with you. Having lived in Perth for most of my life, I am extremely sick of those two arguments being used to prevent things from happening. This is not an issue exclusive with the Town of Vincent, the City of Subiaco has done similar things as well.

  2. F**kin'-A.
    Apparently there were similarly-ridiculous hurdles put in the way of The Stanley in the Town of Cambridge.

  3. Yeah someone told me that the guy who opened the Stanley is a lawyer, and that was the only reason the place ended up opening. If he hadn't been able to do all the legal legwork himself it never would've got through the council and liquor licensing. That's pretty ridiculous.

  4. i am right behind you on this one. in fact, your post has got me all worked up! i'm a town of vincent ratepayer and am about to research the candidates for the upcoming election, and will vote solely with this topic in mind!

  5. I'm not a ratepayer, I'm a renter, but I can still vote... My problem is that I don't know which of the candidates would be least inclined to say 'yes' to things rather than 'no'.

    If one of them ran on a small bar platform they'd get my vote for sure.

  6. have you received the election package? are there contact details of candidates? i thought i might give them a call and ask them where they stand on small bars in the electorate.

  7. hmm I might have, it's probably in a pile of stuff to be read.

    Let me know if you manage to figure out if any of them are pro-small bars!

  8. This was very interesting to read! I never have paid much attention to council meetings etc but I assume if I did I would be drive irate by the small-mindedness. "Not In My Backyard" should be the new bumper-sticker that identifies the driver as a first-class idiot.

  9. I've never paid much attention to the council either!

    About a year ago someone told me about one of the Oxford Street bars getting knocked back for bullshit reasons, so that spurred me to find out more. It's so annoying.

  10. I might need to start reading these minutes more often... even shonky Mr 'Bikini Girls Massage' Bon Levi gets a mention in these ones.

  11. id vote for matt buckels for TOV elections. he thinks these rulings are as ridiculous as the rest of us do and has as much disdain for that idiot Catania as i do. he's generally a pretty progressive guy and if i was in TOV id be voting for him.

    Disclaimer - i was on the committee of a group called Future Perth with him so i do know him but i think we need more people like him instead of the deadwood we usually get in council.


  12. Abolish local government you say? Good idea.

  13. This is spot on.

    Also worth noting is the brothel twenty metres from the Re Store in the other direction - guess that must be ok since they have a carpark out the back.

  14. Another silly example: the cinemas in Leederville have a liquor license for cinemas 3 and 4 but not cinemas 1 and 2. Also, they can sell drinks for people in the outdoor cinema, but cannot sell it to them outdoors. Apparently, this is because they have been refused a greater license. However, it could also be that they are too lazy to push the point.

  15. wow, that is ridiculous, I had no idea!

  16. I spoke to a guy who I work with who is Deputy Mayor of Town of Vincent, sent him this link, he said he'd like to catch up with you to talk about the issues-apparently there is a couple of the younger councillors who are pro small bars and trying to get some change a happenin'. let me know if you want me to pass on your email address

  17. hmm I dunno about actually talking to someone in person.

    Still, give him my email address though. mattcowgill at gmail dot com

  18. i live right around the corner from the bar that is being refurbished next to the re store. i was walking past the other night and stopped to have a look at the renovations they were doing. as i was there a couple walked up and commented about how terrible it looked! i disagreed and said i thought it looked great and was pleased to have a nice bar within very close walking distance. their comment was along the lines of "we'll have it closed down in 6 months". these must be the very people you mentioned who stopped the other venue from getting a license. what i don't understand is why would you choose to live in leederville, and so close to the busy end of town if you don't like bars and restaurants? there are plenty of areas out in surburbia where there is no bars in walking distance. this makes me want to contact the owner of the new bar to register my support if/when these people try to have it closed down. the parking argument is ridiculous. across the road is the yugal bar that is packed with people every weekend.

  19. that's messed up!

    Yeah I genuinely don't understand people who live in an inner city area and try to stifle anything interesting. Surely there are enough dull suburbs in Perth if that's what you're into?