An Aberdeenshire licensing authority has narrowly paved the way for the anticipated opening of BrewDog’s new £500,000 Inverurie bar and restaurant next month.
Despite the brewing giants not possessing a provisional licence, Aberdeenshire Central Licensing Board took the highly unusual step of granting two occasional licences to enable it to open in the former Mitchell’s Dairy premises on Market Street.
Some 20 new staff can now be employed at the bar which will see the number of BrewDog employees in Aberdeenshire soar to more than 300.
BrewDog retail director James Brown told the board the firm had made “a huge commitment to Inverurie and Aberdeenshire” and afterwards said he was “delighted” with the decision which will initially allow the bar to operate from May 4 to 31.
The company’s full licence application is currently being fast-tracked by the council after delays incurred due to the installation of a new data system and subsequent backlog.
Under the agreement after a close 4-3 vote by licensing board members, the bar has been limited to operating from 11am to 12 midnight Sunday to Thursday and from 11am to 1am Friday and Saturday but only while former BrewDog Tap Room manager Craig Cargill is on the premises. Off-sales have been approved from 10am to 10pm Monday to Sunday.
However, among various conditions imposed by the licensing standards team, it was also agreed that the outdoor space to the rear of the premises will not be utilised by customers until a full licence is granted.
The licensing board heard from Audrey Junner of agents Hill Brown Licensing that BrewDog had no intention to trade by way of occasional licences for an extended period of time.
She added: “We would like to reassure members that a provisional premises licence has been submitted… for the avoidance of doubt my clients wholly accept that no assumptions can be made about the grant of that provisional licence.
“They have undertaken the fit-out works at the business entirely at their own risk.”
But licensing standards officer Lisa Gordini reminded the board that while a provisional licence had been applied for, it would not be discussed until the board’s June meeting and could receive representations or objections which could impact on BrewDog’s operation.
She maintained there was an argument that the board should not be granting any occasional licences which may “conflict with the consultation process” of the provisional licence application.
After considerable debate, board member Robbie Withey proposed refusal of the application, saying the authority expected a six-month consultation period to process applications and that the company – which operates 86 bars around the world – should have applied sooner.
But admitting that the application was “a difficult one”, Gwyneth Petrie proposed making an “absolute exception” to usual practice and proposed approval.