La Cave may lose spirit

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The specialty food store, La Cave, a popular destination for many Tamahere residents, has found itself the worse for wear thanks to the new Liquor Act.

Raphael Coutolleu, owner of the Riverlea Rd store which sells food and beverages from France, said stores such as his did not fit any of the categories listed in the Act.

As a result he would be forced to stop selling a number of popular, high-alcohol lines unless his customers’ signatures on a petition changed the mind of officialdom.

In an attempt to reduce the problem of binge drinking restrictions have been put in place under the Liquor Act to limit who is allowed to get an off-licence, Coutolleu told his customers in a letter.

“Businesses such as ours, specialist food stores which sell imported wine and other beverages, are not on the list,” he said. “In a draft proposal, they were on the list, but the term delicatessen or specialist food store was removed.

“Although we do not contribute to the problem the authorities are trying to fight we are seriously affected by these changes,” Coutolleu said.

The new rules are not very clear and to get clarity could cost thousands of dollars in legal fees, he said.

“Even if the local authorities agree that we most probably fit the model of a ‘grocery store’ we will not be able to sell any alcoholic beverages above 15% [alcohol], so Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, Pastis, Aperitif, digestifs and culinary alcohol will become a thing of the past at La Cave, and in many other specialist stores.”

It could mean high quality drinks of such a nature would disappear entirely from Hamilton, Coutolleu said.

The store was also under threat from a new draft, Hamilton City Council proposal to restrict stores like La Cave to the city’s main commercial centres like the CBD, The Base and Chartwell.

La Cave’s current liquor licence expires on September 15 and it may not be able to sell the high alcohol drinks after that date.

Coutolleu said he hoped a petition he had open in La Cave would help to convince authorities that the law needed to be changed to allow businesses such as his to continue to operate. He urged customers and others concerned about the loss of specialty stores to sign the petition.

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