Hurdle #1 – Permits
We thought the idea of a Wine Bar featuring only WA boutique wines would be a hit. We had just leased our space, 1100 square feet on First street in La Conner. The bonus was that this location was waterside, and included a deck large enough for outdoor seating. What could be better? The location had been retail before, but that was not a problem. We would put in a bathroom, build a bar – French doors out to the deck and we would be ready to go, right? Oh how naïve we were (and to think that was only 3 months ago). Guess what people, permits are required!! O, so many, so different, and so confusing!!
Permit #1 – Liquor Permit
We focused on the liquor permit first, as we made the lease dependant on being able to obtain this permit. Knowing that it takes at least 45 days to process, we thought we were being smart in tackling this first. We also thought it would be relatively easy, since we already had a permit for the online wine store. That part was true, but (yes there is always a but) the requirements for a Wine & Beer Restaurant are MUCH more involved than an online store.
Hurdle #1 – Food
Appetizers & Wine – what could be better? Meat & Cheese plates, cheese & fruit plates, easy for us, no cooking involved so it should ease the health department requirements (see permit #4). NO was the response from liquor board. A Wine & Beer Restaurant must serve at least lunch type fare, hamburgers, sandwiches or the like. OK, but hamburgers did not sound good with fine wine, and we did not want to cook. So we were now on a search for a tasty, classy, different (Paninis were vetoed as being everywhere these days) sandwich that would satisfy the food requirement.
Hurdle #2 – Bar Service
W e also planned to have seating at the bar (we are a wine bar afterall), so showed this on the plans submitted (remember I said make multiple copies of your plans), I received a call from the board. Did we plan to serve the wine at the bar? If so, we would need a barricade built behind the bar restricting minor access. This was a hurdle for us as our space was narrow, and building a barricade might not leave enough room for a walkway. We now started kicking around ideas on how to change the layout, restrict minors by time, do away with the idea of bar seating altogether. None of these sounded like perfect solutions for us.
Hurdle #3 – Deck Seating
OK, this one was minor, but again due to submitting the plans. You must have a barricade for ouside seating, and of course the deck had a railing already. But it was 40 ½ inches high – the liquor board requirement was 42”. What in the heck do you do to add 1 ½ inches??
Check back for Permit #2 – Building Permit