There will be a new alcohol retailer at Owen Roberts International Airport’s departure lounge come 31 January, following last week’s quarterly meeting of the Liquor Licensing Board.
The board granted a package liquor licence to Melba Nixon of Melba’s Duty Free, despite an objection from Bodden Freeport Duty Free Liquors, which also sells alcohol at the airport.
Ms Nixon has previously sold alcohol at the store, but she had let her licence lapse.
Ms Nixon told the board she planned to sell Blackbeard rum cakes and a range of miniature liquor bottles that other retailers don’t sell. Despite this assurance, the board ultimately did not place any conditions on her licence.
Robert Hamaty of Tortuga Duty Free Liquors, who had previously objected to Ms Nixon’s application saying there were already enough liquor retailers at the airport, said he would not oppose the application if it was limited to miniatures.
Attorney Waide DaCosta, representing Bodden Freeport, said the airport is already adequately serviced by liquor retailers. He noted the rising cost of air-fares, which he said was impacting negatively on existing liquor retailers in the lounge.
Alfresco decision delayed again
The owner of West Bay’s Alfresco Restaurant, Chesley Parsons, who has been seeking permission to serve alcohol on his outside deck since March, again had a decision on his application deferred.
One of the reasons for the delay has been that Mr. Parsons did not originally have planning permission for the decking. He told the board the deck now has approval from the Planning Department.
‘I’ve literally done everything you have asked of me; I’m trying to salvage the last half of December here. Things are hard and I need [to be able to serve alcohol on the outside deck],’ Mr. Parsons told the board.
Objectors have previously said it would not be safe to serve alcohol on the decking because waiters would have to carry it across Mary Mollie Hydes Road, which intersects the restaurant and the decking.
Mr. Parsons pointed out that the road has very little traffic and those that do drive on it drive very slowly. It is his understanding that the road will soon be de-gazetted by the NRA.
‘It’s virtually not a road anymore,’ he said.
Objector Ezmie Smith said her concerns about the restaurant and the decking being intersected by the road remain. ‘If we allow him to take liquor across the road we will set a precedent; do we want that in our community?’
Objector Tommy Bodden complained that the restaurant is too close to West Bay’s Church of God to be allowed to serve liquor outside.
Mr. Parsons, who first applied for the variation of his license in early March, expressed frustration at the length of the process.
‘For the last year I have been fighting for this and they keep trying to obstruct me. I understand they are building a church down the road from my home; maybe I should object to that,’ he said.
Regatta Cafe decision deferred
Marcus Cumber of the Regatta Café, which is located in George Town’s West Wind Building, again had an application to extend his license hours deferred.
He had asked for permission to serve alcohol until 1am on weekdays and until midnight on Saturday and Sunday. He had also applied for a music and dancing licence.
Representatives of Elmslie Memorial United Church registered mild objections to the application, saying they were concerned the changes might disrupt church activities.
Mr. Cumber explained that his café, which had been a ‘grab and go’ sidewalk stall, has recently moved to a permanent location inside the West Wind Building.
With cruise visitors down, he is now targeting the local market to improve revenue, he explained. Allowing him to serve alcohol later and play music would help the business.
‘We’re not about loud music; I would be happy to work with the church about music … I don’t want to disrespect the church at all,’ he said.
Instead, he hopes to have one and two-piece jazz performances along with quiet background music. Mr. Cumber said he would be attracting a more mature crowd and said closing at 5pm was limiting his ability to attract local business.
‘This would mean extra revenue and it would mean my staff – both Caymanian and expatriate alike – can make a much better living.’
John McMillan of Elmslie expressed concern that extended licensing hours could disrupt night-time church services and other activities, including youth groups and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. ‘I don’t want to be an undue burden on his business, but we wish to have these factors taken into consideration.’
But he acknowledged that the background music that has previously been played at the café has been no nuisance to the church. ‘In fact, I’ve wondered if the patrons can hear it,’ he said.
Truman Bodden of Elmslie asked that the café’s hours be curtailed to around 7pm, when many of the church’s night-time services and events commence.
‘Elmslie church is there; it has been there a very long time. It’s important that we aren’t interrupted,’ he said.
Courtney Myles, who applied for a retail liquor licence and a music and dancing licence for the Cayman Islands Cricket Association had his application denied.
So too did Raymond Whittaker who had applied for a package liquor licence, a retail liquor licence and a music and dancing licence for Vomfass Cayman Ltd., at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.
The board gave permission for Robert Hamaty to take over Justin Martin’s package liquor licence at Winza Liquors, which is also in the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal.
Brazley McLain of the Pirates Cove Bar in East End had an application to extend his hours on Friday until 2am denied.
Handel Whittaker of Calico Jack’s Bar and Grill was denied permission to set up a permanent satellite bar at the venue.