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Why can’t we have a movie theatre with a liquor licence in Vancouver?

October 28th, 2011 · 21 Comments

I’m no libertarian, as many of you may have guessed over the years. But frequently the strange rules of doing business in this city baffle me.

The latest is what’s happened with the Rio Theatre at Broadway near Commercial, which has turned into one of those businesses that help create a neighbourhood. It has had movies, live music shows, and various other events there in the last few years that have drawn healthy crowds.

As this week’s stories revealed, the Rio has been successful in getting a liquor licence for the theatre, but at the cost of being able to show movies. The city okayed the liquor licence, but the province’s rules don’t allow licences to go along with showing movies.

What a shame. When I was in Portland this summer, we discovered an amazing new theatre called The Living Room, conveniently placed between the Ace Hotel and Powell’s Books. It had giant chairs like Lazyboy recliners, footstools, and a restaurant/bar attached. You could order food or a drink or popcorn, and it would be served to you in the movie theatre. (The popcorn came in lovely, square ceramic bowls.)

It was so heavenly that we went to two movies in a row while we were there, one of which hadn’t been on my top-ten list.

I wondered why no one had had the idea to do something similar here. I now know what would happen if they did.

And what would be the terrible thing that would happen if movie theatres were allowed to serve drinks? I’m trying to imagine and failing utterly.

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