Legion says no to pub

Dave Bartlett
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A letter from the Royal Canadian Legion has Shanneyganock front man and erstwhile restaurateur Chris Andrews scratching his head. Mixed messages from the veteran's group are putting a restaurant-pub near the War Memorial on Duckworth Street in question. - Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Musician Chris Andrews is feeling a little off-key. The frontman of Shanneyganock was hoping to open a pub-style restaurant on Duckworth Street in St. John's, called the Newfoundland Embassy, near the Northeast corner of the war memorial.

But before he approached the city, Andrews wanted to make sure the Royal Canadian Legion wouldn't have an issue with his plan.

"We wanted to make sure we did everything correct," he told The Telegram last week. "We wanted to make sure we had the permission of the Legion."

Andrews pitched his project last month to the city's planning committee.

At the time, he said he was waiting on letters of support from the Legion and had received an email from an official which stated "we will have two letters for you Monday morning - one from Provincial Command and one from Branch No 56."

He also told the committee that the restaurant would focus on food and acoustic entertainment, a quiet place to have a pint far from the ruckus of the rest of downtown.

"This is not George Street," he said. "People have this (misconception) that every pub and club (is) going to be rough and ready."

Andrews said he and his partners also offered to police the war memorial for the Legion.

The plan was to set up four security cameras facing the cenotaph to help catch anyone who was up to no good in the area.

The restaurant, he said, was also to have a section dedicated to the province's military history with artifacts such as berets, medals and photos on the wall.

"In the restaurant, we were going to have a whole section dedicated to our military history, which is strong," he said.

A city bylaw states that bars cannot be opened within 50 metres of the war memorial and when the issue came before council, the project was given the green light on the condition the city received the official letters of support as promised to Andrews.

But council said without the that support the project would not go ahead.

Then Andrews received a letter from the Legion which stated it was unaware of the project until the story out of council was published in The Telegram.

"There are enough clubs/bars in the downtown area without establishing one so close to a place of respect and honour," states the letter from Aiden Crewe, the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Command of the Legion. "Our veterans and their surviving family members deserve the utmost respect. These people gave life and limb to protect us and our freedom."

The letter caught Andrews off guard.

Unfortunately, the woman he was dealing with at the Legion recently passed away, so he's not sure where the communication breakdown happened.

"If we hadn't been told we had the permission of the Legion, we never would have went to (city) council," he said.

Andrews said he will look for another location to open his pub.

"If we can't put that pub there, that's fine," he said. "But we'd like to know why they are tarring everybody with the same brush."

Andrews said he bears no animosity towards the Legion. He's just confused why it seemed there was support for the project one day and none the next.

The Telegram called the Legion to request an interview with Crewe, but that call was not returned by The Telegram's deadline.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: The Telegram, Newfoundland Embassy, Royal Canadian Legion Newfoundland and Labrador Command

Geographic location: Duckworth Street, St. John's, George Street

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Recent comments

  • Geo Trask
    March 22, 2012 - 23:05

    I served 27 years in the military and have been a Legion member for 45 years. I feel that if if the Legion has any thing to say about this or any other business, it should go to a member vote as to what should happen. This is putting a dark stain on the Legion members and should be stopped and supported by all members. Mr. Crews should take the approperate action as soon as possible to correct his errors.

  • NF D
    March 19, 2012 - 21:53

    The Legion building itself, which is a decent place on Quidi Vidi I might add, has several bars in it. I think they should work with Andrews on this one

  • Proud Townie
    March 19, 2012 - 12:29

    I have followed the careers of Chris Andrews and Mark Hiscock for a very long time now and they seem to by very proud Newfoundlanders, that respect the very symbolism of the war Memorial. I actually follow Mark on facebook, on Nov. 11 he posts a picture of whom I believe is his grandfather, that was a blue puttee. I strongly believe these fine lads would not put an establishment there that would disrespect this monument and the soldiers it represents. Good luck Lads.....

  • KM
    March 19, 2012 - 11:46

    In response to Anne's Comment, The Legion cannot Turn anyone down, sounds like they just wanted their support in the matter, which they had and the legion retracted that is the real issue, not only is this about the location, but also about the "shiftyness" of the Legion and Aiden Crewe. And Since when would a pub Offend War Vets, I know alot of Vets that it wouldnt, and looks like these guys wanted to put cameras in, wouldnt u think that would be a better security for the memorial. I see the worst people hanging around it now, I guess thats not disrespecting it in the Legions eyes. Prob based on one guys comment who didnt like it. Nice to know who dictates things around our City.

  • Stop Crow's Nest Competition
    March 19, 2012 - 06:58

    The legion is playing favouristes for The Crow's Nest, once an officers only bar and restaurant, now membership is open to the public. The Legion needs to get with the times.

  • Anne
    March 19, 2012 - 05:53

    The location he is looking at is too close to a dense residential area for a pub. If the Legion didn't turn him down, the city would have. There are plenty of locations downtown away from residential areas that aren't on George Street.

    • Brett
      March 19, 2012 - 08:49

      Too close? Like the strip club used to be at the bottom of wood street on duckworth??? Like the pool hall/bar on duckworth too? too close???? Like the about 1/2 dozen bars throughout the city??? Now I go out once or twice a year downtown, so this decision won't impact me in the slightest, however, your argument about being too close doesn't hold up.

    • Anne
      March 19, 2012 - 20:41

      You're referring to two establishments that are both closed. Times have changed. Property values downtown have soared and the city is raking in tax dollars from downtown residents who need to get up for work in the morning. The city has had problems with late-night noise even with a some of the licensed restaurants on Duckworth, and I'm sure they're not anxious to repeat the problems. There's plenty of room for bars in downtown areas that are not residential.

    • Brett
      March 20, 2012 - 11:06

      Anne, times have changed, over the past 2 years??? The rules for building change based on city regulation not poor businesses going bankrupt. You want better businesses downtown, tear down the 2/3 story buildings, or put in a regulation that you cannot rebuild but must build a taller building that adheres to new guidelines like they do in Toronto. You don't wait for a situation and then go with your gut. You get a fire downtown, you force a real building in place, not another row house done up like an office building (apartments on top, junk store on bottom).

  • BWJ
    March 19, 2012 - 01:37

    a a member of the legion and the son of a veteran, i read in disbelief some of the comments here. there is already enough desecration of the cenotaph from drunken idiots. you walk by on a sat or sun, morning. the legion is not concerned with the number of bars,just the location reference the cenotaph. i ask all to go to the service nov.11 and listen to or talk with a veteran to learn what the memorial stands for and why it deserves solemn respect. "LEST WE FORGET"

  • Bill
    March 18, 2012 - 23:28

    As an ex-pat I come home to St. John's sometimes twice a year. I enjoy immensly my time downtown immersed amid the music and charming people. I remember well Mrs. Pennys' - the Cam-Pen, I believe - and the Stardust - yessiree!! and all my friends do too. We never disrespected the Memorial, in fact we thought about those service people every time we passed by, and to tell you the truth anyone with any guts would take to task anyone who would disrespect it. Corner taverns are what all the servicemen lived for. My father made a living all his life playing music for just such men and women. He was a very well respected if not well-off member of the community. He also worked in munitions - a very dangerous job during the Second WW and he helped at every other job that needed him - his ghost sits at the Narrows on guard. The comment about whether or not a person served in the military, to my mind is very narrow and uninformed. None of the merchant marines served in the military but they were needed dearly and contributed mightily - check your history. Just because a person didn't wear a uniform or get a pension doesn't mean they were any less than an enlisted person or that they have no voice. The Legion has been dependent on civilians for as long as it has been around. Everyone made an effort and that kinda gets lost in ceremony and circumstance sometimes. My friends and I host a rock 'n' roll jam at a legion on Vancouver Island every Friday night - we fill the place regularly and contribute to the coffers the Legion needs to continue to exist. We have people from every nation on earth join us from time to time and I think that might be the greatest legacy of the Legion. Small minded people who don't see the value in this sometimes unilaterally make decisions based on nothing but personal bias. The Andrews name in St. John's has a long tradition of entertainers - my dads' contemporaries - in St. John's and I don't know this particular gentleman personally but he seems like a caring and considerate type - there are some of us left. The fact is - and anyone who entertains knows full well - that this type of entertainment draws a certain clientelle and acoustic or mildly P.A'd acoustic music does not draw the rowdies; they tend to be attracted to the louder more raucous venues. I'd love to have a beer at Mrs. Pennys' again - a Jockey Club from 1971 but that will never happen. Good luck with your venture Mr Andrews. signed 180 lbs of Saxophone and Legion fed proud Newfoundlander...just sayin'...

  • MMM, CD
    March 18, 2012 - 19:40

    Has this guy Crewe even served in the military?

  • ty
    March 18, 2012 - 18:45

    Restraunts serving booze are allowed across the street. The Crows Nest bar is allowed next to the Memorial (you have to walk over it to get to it). The Legion does not protest against the Occupy Hoodlums across the street in the park doing God knows what. But, they protest this little pub. I think it more of a competition thing for the Legion than a respect thing, many of them may be members of the Crows Nest lounge and the Legion itself opperates a pub. Get real!

    • Chantal
      March 19, 2012 - 05:44

      If you don't know what the "hoodlums" are doing, why not ask them, or are you afraid to enter a battle of wits unarmed?

  • Democracy equality
    March 18, 2012 - 17:39

    Why would the city council allow a Legion to dictate re this application?Why not the whole city ?And who speaks for the City ?The City Council .

  • Kev
    March 18, 2012 - 17:32

    There is a big Irish pub right across the street next to the cenotaph in Ottawa.

  • BR
    March 18, 2012 - 12:42

    Does anybody remember The Tudor Inn, The Concorde, the Stardust, Ma Penny's? You couldn't get any closer than they were. If any damage is going to be done, it will be done by those that just don't care. The type of bar/restaurant Andrews is talking about will not attract the troublemakers. George St is getting a bad name and maybe there are enough people looking for the type of place Andrews wants to start. His customers could be the type that would call the RNC if they see any damage being done.

  • Rick from Middle Earth
    March 17, 2012 - 22:18

    Isn't this Crewe guy the same that made a big deal about the sign for the fallen soldier in Springdale? Sounds to me like to is too enamoured with the sound of his own voice and being the big man on campus to see past his own shadow. I guess the city is holding out for another fish & chips joint for that spot. If someone can tell me why it is OK for someone to get hammered at dinner in a restaurant licensed in that location but a pub (whose owners seem to be looking to work with the Legion) is out of the question that would be helpful. Nice how the guy throws in the "life and limb to protect us and our freedom" just to make his own point. I haven't seen anything that these guys were trying to do as disrespectful to anyone's sacrifice for our country. Please...

  • Baffled
    March 17, 2012 - 20:33

    I Def agree with the previous comments about there being an underlying issue to why the legion retracted there support after giving it in the 1st place. Right there that is questionable. Mr. Andrews seems like he wants to open a respectful place and not a run of the mill DT bar which in my opinion St. John's needs it, were constantly dealing with the same old same old in the Downtown St. John's area. Somewhere where you can hear yourself talk and have some good food and few drinks. And since when does this Aiden Crewe guy get to dictate how many establishments are enough for downtown, if he is so concerened about disrespecting the War Memorial then why didnt he implement more secuity around it, like the camara's Mr. Andrews mentioned. I think this issue should be looked into it more in depth for sure, and if the Newfoundland EMbassy is not allowed in that area maybe the someone should look into including the Crow's Nest into this 50 meters law. And my LAst comment here would be that my Grandfather Fought for in the Koren War and the Newfoundland Embassy sounds like just the place he would love to go and a drink. Hope it all works out.

  • Patrick
    March 17, 2012 - 12:17

    I don't know, while it seems that a plan was in place to protect the war memorial from the idiots that would no doubt treat it with disrespect. The risk is definately there. While most of this clubs patrons would tread lightly around the cenotaph, there would definately be the odd heathen who would take a leak on it, throw a beer bottle or start climbing over the statues (thats how the bayonet was broken off the rifle of the soldier crouched on the right, which has since been replaced). Maybe there is something else going on here? The crows nest is located mere steps from the memorial, maybe the owners, who draw a lot of support from legion members are worried about competition? In any case, CCTV cameras should be set there anyway to catch any disrespectful punks who would access the memorial for any other reason than to pay their respects!

  • East ender
    March 17, 2012 - 11:21

    All the years I lived in the East end there were always pubs right next to the Memorial,there were always a strip club right there next to it.There is more of a crowd hanging out and bumming money at the coffee shop on the corner of Prescott and Duckworth then I,m sure that this pub would have .I have no connection what so ever with these want to be pub owners,I also don,t think the Legion should have any say what so ever.to many people has to much to say.All the years clubs restaurants other business,s have been in this area it your kids/adults on their skate boards causing the problems,they always has the 40 years I lived down here.

  • Bill
    March 17, 2012 - 10:45

    Guess the legion does not want any competition for The Crows Nest! And the City certainly doesn't want to add another establishment in a facility that was used as an eatery a short time ago; that would make too much common sense!