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Complex gets new drink and food providers

City reaches agreements for alcohol sales and food service
Chris Bolster

An agreement over the proceeds from beer sales at Hap Parker Arena was reached in time for the start of the Powell River Kings hockey season.

At a special mid-day meeting of city council on Thursday, September 10, councillors voted unanimously in favour of a deal that assigns the city’s existing liquor license at the arena to the junior hockey club for a three-year term.

Prior to last year’s hockey season, the city had given community groups hosting events, including the Kings, the opportunity to operate beer gardens at the arena. But according to Ray Boogaards, director of parks, recreation and culture, that practice was not permitted under the terms of the license, so the city opted to incorporate responsibly for beer sales last year into the recreation complex’s food and beverage service operator’s contract. The city’s new liquor license names the Kings as a third party.

Boogaards added that the new agreement with the Kings is more advantageous for the city and aids the hockey team in its fundraising efforts. Under the terms of the new agreement, the Kings pay a per-game, flat fee of $100 for each regular game and $150 for each playoff game.

Volunteers under supervision of the club will staff the beer gardens.

The area covered the license remains unchanged and those consuming alcoholic beverages are restricted to the east side of the area’s spectator seating.

Powell River Kings Society president Robert Villani said he is pleased the club would again be benefiting from the sales. He explained that about one third of the team’s annual operating budget, in excess of $800,000, comes from its community fundraising.

“It’s vital that we have different revenue streams to make sure we can keep the team in Powell River,” said Villani. He said the hockey club is open and willing to work with other community groups who may be interested in selling beer at events inside the arena.

“We’re not talking this as an exclusivity. It’s just about who uses it the most. If there are other organizations which need to run a beer garden, we can work it out,” he said.

After concerns were raised at the August 18 council meeting that  other community non-profits may have wanted to be the primary holder of the liquor license, Boogaards reported to the councillors that no other groups besides the Kings approached his department about the deal.

Meanwhile, the arena also has a new food and beverage concession operator.

Top Shelf, owned and operated by Lori and Royce Alexander, had its soft opening at Powell River Recreation Complex on Tuesday, September 1. The company signed a two-year deal with the city to run the concession. The contract includes a one-year extension option.

In July, the parks, recreation and culture department issued a request for proposal for a new concession operator. Lori has many years of experience working in food services and is well-known in the community for her work in Vancouver Island University’s Culinary Arts dual credits program, which teaches high-school students how to work in commercial kitchens and prepare meals.

Boogaards said that operating the complex’s concession can be challenging because of inconsistent flow of patrons, low profit margins for food and other factors. Operators also need to find a balance between a menu of more traditional concession fare, burgers and french fries, and offering healthier food choices, something his department encourages, he added.

“The most important thing is you’ve got to know the community,” he said. “[Lori] knows the food service industry in and out.”

Lori, who plans to continue with VIU in addition to operating the concession, said she is excited to take on the challenge and is looking to market the business primarily for the main user groups, including those attending Kings’ and minor hockey games and community members coming for skating and swimming.

“I want to be here for the long term,” she said. “When you’re watching hockey you want fries and a hot chocolate or coffee, but there will be some healthy choices.”