BATHERS BEACH HOUSE has been given Australia’s first liquor licence over a beach, but non-paying customers will no longer be able to use that stretch of sand.
In 2014 Fremantle council gave BBH owners Nick Unmack and Henry Liascos approval to put sun lounges out the front of their $6.5 million restaurant.
At the time Mr Unmack told the West Australian that restricting the lounges to customers “was not in the spirit of what we’re trying to do”.
“We don’t want it to be an exclusive thing for our customers,” he said.
But with Thursday’s announcement of a license for alfresco dining covering the lounges, that pledge was forgotten. When the Chook rang the restaurant, staff confirmed kids and families would no longer be welcome to seek shade under the lounge umbrellas.
A release from BBH said the liquor licence was achieved after six months’ negotiations with Fremantle council and liquor and gaming.
But Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt and councillor Jon Strachan appear to have been blindsided by the move.
Dr Pettitt, a big Europhile where beach business is big business, says he supported the alfresco addition but hadn’t heard about it until this week’s media announcement.
He says “perhaps in the future” a section of the lounges could be set aside for public use.
“I think it’s a clever use of a small section of beach and will attract more people to Fremantle,” he says.
Cr Strachan also couldn’t remember anything coming before council: “It came totally out of left-field.”
“I’m a bit uncomfortable about the whole situation.”
The Herald contacted co-owner Henry Liascos but he declined to comment.
Mr Unmack says customers will now be able to book up to 20 lounges and enjoy being waited on while watching views of the Indian Ocean.
“You can experience this in Europe and Asia and this move now brings us up to par with what is almost expected of an international destination,” he says.
“After the success and popularity of our beach lounges, we were continually encountering questions about the beach becoming a fully serviced area. The beach lounges will provide a range of options, whether it’s a casual meal from our beach menu, sunset drinks, sunset dinners or an ideal location for a unique function.
“Locals love Bathers Beach and this will become another must-do WA experience for tourists.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK