The fridge is stocked, the taps are primed, the bar is clean, the kitchen is open for lunches, dinners and a tasty pie or two.
You just can’t buy a beer. Or any other alcohol for that matter.
North Canterbury’s Cust Hotel publican Thomas Dick is starting to feel like a “soft drink dispenser” and the township of Cust is dry for the first time in more than 140 years.
An “administrative error” meant that an application to the Waimakariri District Council (WDC) for liquor licence renewal did not go through, Dick said.
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“It wasn’t picked up by us or the council until it was too late. We put a notice in the Northern Outlook [on Wednesday] for a renewal of licence, but we can’t renew it as it’s expired.”
The pub had run as usual, unaware their licence had expired at the end of March.
“We found out yesterday. They [the WDC] came in and said, ‘Sorry we’ve got some bad news’.
“It sucks, but hey, you keep your chin up. Don’t worry about it, we’ll look after the staff and keep the doors open. We’re a wee bit down, but not out.”
WDC environmental manager Malcolm Johnston said council had sent reminders out to the publicans on January 25 and sympathised with “the sad situation” that the “exemplary publicans” had found themselves in.
“They are outstanding publicans. They’re widely respected by the community, the police and by the licensing inspectors here.
“If [a licence] expires, there’s nothing to renew. It is absolutely fatal for unlicensed premises.”
The WDC district licensing committee (DLC) had received a special licence request from the publicans on Wednesday.
“We are happy to entertain any application from the Cust Hotel … we will process that in super fast time,” Johnston said.
Dick said it would be great if the WDC could put a special licence through, but understood that, if not, they faced a 15 day wait for a new licence.
The wait would prevent the sale of alcohol over both the Easter and Anzac Day long weekends.
Despite not being able to sell booze, the hotel would remain open for meals, hot drinks, soft drinks or watching sport.
“We’ll be playing the footy on Sky. Anyone who wants to watch the Crusaders versus the Sunwolves on Friday can come … It’s business as usual, just no grog,” Dick said.
One regular patron, who did not wish to be named, only discovered they would not be able to have a cold beer on a cold day on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a bit annoying for the locals, we’ll have to go to Oxford or Rangiora and they’re about the same distance away,” the patron said.
Dick said he was concerned that there could be a drink driving risk for patrons who travelled to other towns for a beer.
Johnston said that he would recommend to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority that in future, if an exemplary publican missed their deadline for licence application, local DLCs could issue waivers to prevent the issue in future.