Authorities all ok with topless tavern in Browns Bay ‘child-centric’ church hub

June 22, 2023

Authorities all ok with topless tavern in Browns Bay ‘child-centric’ church hub

Waiting to make the Taiaotea Guides submission are (from left): Louise Jordan, Charlotte Resoli, Nichola Resoli and Arda Van Kuyk Photo: Nina Tapu

A police officer fighting alcohol harm, a medical health officer and a licensing inspector all support a topless bar’s application for a liquor licence, despite objections from Browns Bay businesses, education providers and two churches.

Senior Constable Sonny McSweeney, who works in the Waitematā Alcohol Harm Prevention Unit, medical officer of health Nick Sykes and alcohol licensing inspector Andy Thomas all took a “not opposed” stance to Brownzy Holdings Ltd’s application for a new on-licence at a recent Auckland District Licensing Committee hearing.

The Brownzy Sports Bar, formerly known as the Brownzy Tavern, is a live-music venue that has hosted iconic Kiwi bands such as The Exponents and The Feelers.

The Brownzy Sports Bar has been trading since 2008 and sells alcohol as its main purpose, as well as having a betting outlet and pokie machines.

The tavern wants to relocate from its Beach Road address of 60 years to new premises on Anzac Road, where its new home will be near child-friendly services and places of worship.

All Senior Constable McSweeney and Sykes said in their reports was that they did not oppose the application.

Thomas said the nearest residential buildings were 38m away and there were about 20 premises with on-licences within 500m of the proposed bar.

There were also five early childcare centres, five parks and reserves, three schools and two places of worship within 500m, he said.

He said he watched from his parked car from 2pm to 6pm on three separate days in February and saw a total of 40 children alone or in small groups walking past, along with five more walking with parents.

“The majority of children attending extracurricular activities in the area were transported by vehicle to and from the activities,” he said.

However, construction of the Brownzy pub has come to a halt due to opposition against its operation as a tavern from its new neighbours and local community groups.

Kim Murdoch, town centre manager for the Browns Bay Business Association, said in her submission she felt the Brownzy Sports Bar was “contrary to the values of the businesses in the area” and it was “going into a child-centric situation”.

Eduexperts’ After-School Tutoring Service is on the same stretch and owner Leah Li told TWN it was “not good for our students to be exposed to a pub".

Taiaotea Guides runs its Girl Guides programme from the Browns Bay Presbyterian Church hall across the road, triggering concern from co-leader Arda Van Kuyk that the tavern was “not a right fit for our area”.

She said her organisation was “trying to raise resilient, strong, wāhine”, while a colleague, Louise Jordan, said the tavern's promotional material objectified women.

Nichola Resoli, a mother of two daughters attending the Girl Guides programme, agreed. “If you look at the Brownzy current marketing, it’s quite distressing. The imagery in itself is quite offensive.

“My concern around the opening of this facility is it will strongly influence my daughters in a direction that is not wholesome.”

Online reviews of The Brownzy Sports Bar include comments from patrons that the venue has “a topless waitress doing a meat raffle” and “a topless waitress doing the rounds [so] may not be a good place for the family”.

The Brownzy Sports Bar has a predominantly male, tradie clientele.

During the hearing Brownzy co-director Craig Rendle assured the district licensing committee he would change its marketing approach and target more female customers.

NZ Iron Strength gym owner Wiremu Poa is new to Browns Bay, running his business just metres from the site for almost a year.

His clientele are largely 15 to 35 years old and include members overcoming drug and alcohol addictions.

"We want to provide a place where people can improve their wellbeing . . . to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

He said if he knew the Brownzy was going to be built nearby, he would “have had second thoughts about opening my business in this area”.

There were 16 objections made against the application for the on-licence and three in support of it. Among them were objections from the Browns Bay Presbyterian Church and the Auckland Full Gospel Church, which is right next door.

In 2017, the Brownzy Tavern was robbed at gunpoint by masked offenders.

The Auckland District Licensing Committee will respond to the Brownzy Holdings Ltd application for a new on-licence later this month.

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