After winning over Annex residents and fighting a protracted battle with various bureaucracies, chef J.P. Challet and his partners are being granted a liquor licence for their latest restaurant, Ici Bistro. The news came down late yesterday and can be taken as a victory for cooler minds. The licence itself has a few provisos—15, to be precise—that include a ban on video arcades and loud music. But perhaps the key condition of the licence is that it cannot be handed down to any new business on that property without another hearing with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. This should be good news to deputy mayor Joe Pantalone, who opposed boozing at the bistro out of fear that a yet-unheard-of sleaze spot might one day move in, peddle hooch to local teens and tear the community asunder.
Ironically, the community was only strengthened by Challet’s efforts. The chef opened his Harbord Street restaurant to locals to show that his motives were gastronomic, not nefarious. After a fashion, Annex residents rallied around him, and many signed their names to a petition that supported the bistro’s licence application. For his part, Joe Pantalone seems to know when he’s beat. Once the licence was granted, the councillor told the Globe, “I respect the decision and will do my best to make it work. That’s the beauty about democracy.”
We’ll drink to that, Joe (even if we can’t get in a little NASCAR Showdown between the lobster bisque and steak frites).
• Annex’s Ici Bistro wins liquor fight [Globe and Mail]