City opposes late-night restaurant opening

City council is not supporting a Downtown New Westminster restaurant’s request to serve liquor and food until 2 a.m., due to concerns raised by nearby residents about the noise it could create.

Stefanos Restaurant, at 315 Columbia St., has applied to the B.C. Liquor Licensing Branch for the extended hours. In his application cover letter, president Bill Faltakas said a trend has developed in recent years where the restaurant’s clientele is beginning the night later so he wants to offer a dinner menu until 2 a.m.

“It is our hope to offer a later dining experience by keeping the restaurant, kitchen and bar open longer,” wrote Faltakas. “We pride ourselves on offering a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere for our clientele to enjoy themselves for an evening. We do not wish to rush customers out the door just when their evening is beginning.”

The city received 31 letters opposed to the application and only one in support—from a Stefanos patron who lives in New Westminster. Most were from nearby residents complaining there’s already too much late-night noise coming from the restaurant which has been in business since 1994.

Seven of the letters were from the owner and employees of the nearby Brooklyn Bar and Grill. Its owner, Kostas Stathis, wrote that Stefanos had violated several regulations and feels it is already operating as a night club.

“I believe that the current troubles with the patrons will continue and/or escalate if their liquor license is extended to 2 a.m.,” wrote Stathis.

A staff report to council noted the restaurant hadn’t had any compliance issues until April of this year when it was cited for allowing after-hours alcohol consumption and for failing to take liquor from patrons at closing time. The restaurant was closed for four days in August as a result of the violations.

Coun. Bill Harper said the extended hours don’t fit into the city’s vision for Downtown, pointing out how a reduction over the last several years in the number of seats that can be served liquor in the city has led to a reduction in crime.

“It’s changed in the way we wanted it to change. It’s not an entertainment district. We want to build a more family-oriented Downtown,” said Harper. “Why do they need to serve liquor until 2 a.m.? It’s a restaurant.”

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