Caribbean beats, eats and atmosphere are what Ed Pottinger has planned for the re-opening of his landmark restaurant, the Real Jerk. Due to complaints from residents at his new location, however, he may have to open sans-alcohol.
Pottinger is set to head into a pre-hearing with the Licence Appeal Tribunal and residents of the 625 Queen St. E. location on January 22.
Some of the building’s 65 unit owners sent letters of complaint to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) after the Real Jerk posted a mandatory notice on the building with regards to their licence application, said Lisa Murray of the AGCO.
The Tribunal’s mandate is to provide a fair, impartial and efficient means to appeal decisions concerning compensation claims and licensing activities regulated by several ministries of the provincial government. The pre-hearing is a panel-led, private discussion between the parties involved to come to an agreement through mediation. If both sides cannot come to an agreement, they will plan a later date for a hearing.
Some of the concerns the tribunal will address are noise, hours of operation, safety in the entryways, and the potential for inebriated patrons at the Caribbean hub, said Pottinger.
“There are some legitimate concerns, I would like to address them,” said Pottinger who notes loud music is not permitted in his lease. “In the old restaurant we had little kids playing on the floor looking at all the names that were written there. There were no drunks staggering around trying to knock them over.”
Jeff Levy, a lawyer for one of the residents at the building, said purchasers who bought the units new or in predevelopment, were told by the developer that the 2,000-sq-foot space would be used for a retail outlet or a coffee shop.
Pottinger said he was invited by the landlord to rent the space. “He wanted us there.”
“It’s one thing to have a liquor licence, it’s another to maintain it,” said Levy, who notes condo unit owners don’t believe Pottinger will likely be able to obtain a liquor licence.
Levy also said unit owners will be actively putting in complaints as they apply if the Pottingers do succeed with obtaining a licence.
“It’s not good to be starting off on such a bad foot,” he said.
Other complaints, like garbage disposal and parking, won’t be heard by the AGCO who will be leading the pre-hearing, said Levy. “They’re hoping that the tenant will be less inclined to affirm the lease with the landlord.”
Pottinger hopes the pre-hearing will provide a forum for unit owners to express their concerns so that he may address the solutions, as well as emphasize that he is running a restaurant, not a nightclub.
“There is no greater noise than the traffic from the Don Valley and the streetcars going by,” said Pottinger on the ambient noise he expects to come from The Real Jerk. “I don’t think we can get much louder than that.”
Pottinger has hosted open houses for residents at the new location where they have voiced their concerns and spoken one-on-one with the owners. “Going in, I don’t want to make enemies. I want to make friends. If we could exist together, that would be wonderful.”
One of the items that has been successfully addressed is the giant smiling, sun mural on the side of the previous restaurant. Pottinger has updated the look, and is crowd sourcing on indiegogo.com for a $2,450 mural for the interior of the restaurant that replicates the old one.
“People were telling me they missed the old mural that we thought scared people,” said Pottinger.