Pirates’ new liquor license

By Kelley Wake & Philippa Bradbury
Pic by: Bella Parkinson

Pirates Pizza has definitely moved up in the world. Their new venue opposite Peppergrove Mall on African Street incorporates all the aspects students need for a place to hang out. The friendly vibe that Pirates is known for is now enhanced by a larger area and comfortable seating that allows for students to sit and enjoy their meal. Now, with a liquor license, Pirates cannot seem to get any better. Acquiring the license, however, was not an easy task.

According to Jonathan Inggs, the general manager of Pirates, they applied for their liquor license last October in the hope of receiving it in time for O-Week this year.

The process of applying for a liquor license and actually obtaining it are two very difficult procedures. As Inggs said, Pirates “had all their ducks in a row” after being assessed by the fire, police and health department. The request was gazetted to the community and because there was no negative feedback within the allotted time of 21 days, the application went ahead.

Assessments from the liquor board used to include the entire country, but they are now provincially based. However, instead of making the system more efficient, the opposite has occurred. Members of the liquor board now only meet once a week and establishments all over the Eastern Cape are inspected on a two-week cycle. It is surely of no surprise that “little” Grahamstown has regularly been forgotten.

The process of reviewing the application and contacting Pirates is legally meant to take 60 days. Three months later, however, Pirates still had not received any word. They took legal action against the Eastern Cape Liquor Board by serving them with papers stipulating that if their application was not reviewed immediately, Pirates would take them to court. Thanks to an influential advocate on their legal team, Pirates received their license within a week.

Pirates is not the only business to have had trouble with their liquor license. Cow Moon Theory applied for theirs three and a half months ago after going through the same, difficult application process and are now waiting for a reply which should have come about a month and a half ago.

Some restaurants – such as Ruanthai – would like to have a license, but getting the R8000 needed for the application alone has prevented this. The owner, Ian Currie, would have preferred to apply for the cheaper wine and malt license, but for some reason this option no longer exists and a full liquor license is the only alternative.

The situation was so serious that the Pirates boys felt that if they had not received their application when they did, the amount of money they would have lost would have been tremendous.

As Geoff Waugh, one of the owners of Pirates, said, “Students would have come back from their holidays and there would have been no Pirates.” What worries Pirates the most is that families’ livelihoods are being destroyed by the inefficiency of the Liquor Board. Some people invest their life savings into bottle stores and restaurants alike and because of the backlog of applications that have accumulated since 2006, businesses are repossessed and the owners lose everything.

The proud owners of Pirates, who have harboured this vision since their second year, finally have “the business they have always dreamed of”.


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