On Jan. 10, Philip and Mark Muz, owners of The Aviary, passed their liquor license inspection, the last hurdle the brothers needed to clear before officially opening.
“As soon as the AGLC inspector left, we locked the doors and screamed and hugged,” said Mark.
It took them two years to open the venue due to delays with building and development permits, renovations, and inspections.
The biggest problem was changing the building use from what was a yoga studio into an all-ages, live music venue serving alcohol and food. The city doesn’t have a licensing category fitting that description. The closest is a restaurant, so they had update the building to meet those codes.
“It was the only way to have minors. The Artery was an all-ages venue and we wanted to stay with that,” said Philip, and added, “Being the age we are, a lot of people we know have kids.”
Their issues started with parking spaces. The city required them to have 27 spaces, but the brothers appealed for a variance for 16 spaces after Philip took stock of parking spaces on the street, side streets, and talked to neighbours.
They thought they were set, but the city rejected them. Frustrated, Philip tweeted about it and the media tracked them down. Although that got the city’s attention, it still took them awhile to resolve the parking issues.
Renovation costs were also unexpected in getting the building up to code. They estimated renovations to be $25,000-30,000, but it added up to a little over $100,000.
Then there were plumbing, electrical, and gas inspections. The brothers were frank about their frustration with what they called “countless delays.”
“[City inspectors would] book an inspection and not show up,” said Mark.
“The inspections were an absolute nightmare,” Philip agreed. He talked about a blowup on Twitter over one of the delays. “I used the F-word and tagged Don Iveson.”
Some of their customers didn’t like the language and Philip apologized. But “every time we used the F-word, we got results,” said Philip.
More hurdles tested their patience and endurance, like the minor confusion over the name on the food handling permit.
“I looked them [inspectors] in the eye and said, ‘everyday counts,’ ” said Philip.
Happily, the last inspection passed without a hitch and The Aviary will now be open regularly four to five nights a week. Hours vary, but typically they’ll open around 7 pm on weekdays and 8 pm on weekends.
“It’s going to be an affordable and accessible space, open to every genre. We’re just a venue for everyone,” said Philip.
And there will be music, lots of it. The Aviary is teaming up with Rylan Kafara from Boyle Street Community Services. For 16 weeks, 32 bands will perform and donor money will go toward the Boyle Street Recreation Program.
Expect art shows, too. Shows are already booked from May to July.
They’ll sell food prepared in-house, with a varying menu, and serve vegetarian brunches from local caterers on Sundays starting the end of February. Prices will be in the $12 range. Bar prices are also reasonable.
“We’re really focusing on making this place affordable,” said Philip.
Check their Facebook page at Aviary Norwood for more information or visit them at 9314 111 Avenue .
Featured Image: Philip (left) and Mark (right) in the newly-renovated space at The Aviary. | Rebecca Lippiatt
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