Legion says no to pub

Dave Bartlett talkingtelevision@gmail.com
Published on March 17, 2012
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.