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Get a haircut, drink a glass of wine

Proposed changes would allow alcohol to be sold at hair salons, spas

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Kitty Bernes of the Berns & Black Salon plans to get a licence and serve alcohol to her clients once the new rules take effect in 2014.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Kitty Bernes of the Berns & Black Salon plans to get a licence and serve alcohol to her clients once the new rules take effect in 2014. Photo Store

Don't crack a beer in the middle of Magicuts just yet, but the province is prepared to allow alcohol service in hair salons, spas and other "customer-service environments."

Proposed new rules governing the sale of booze in Manitoba are intended to allow a wider array of businesses to serve a glass of wine, a beer or possibly even a cocktail on the premises.

Dave Chomiak, the minister responsible for alcohol and gaming, identified hair salons and spas as potential candidates. But the new regulations are expected to allow other forms of businesses to apply for alcohol-serving licences.

"I think it's amazing," said Kitty Bernes, the co-owner of the Berns & Black Salon in the Exchange District. "One of my clients, a doctor, said just last week and the end of his day, 'What I would give right now for a Manhattan.' "

A round of mimosas would go a long way to relieving wedding-day bridal-party tensions, added Bernes, whose establishment -- like all salons -- is already subject to provincial health regulations.

Many North American jurisdictions allow alcohol sales in places other than bars and restaurants. Some specify the type, while others invite any business to apply for a licence.

In 2011, after Ontario amended its liquor regulations to allow any business to apply for an alcohol-sales licence, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario received more than 30 applications from the likes of golf simulators, hair salons, spas, movie theatres and grocery stores, the Toronto Star reported.

As of January, however, Ontario granted only two of those special licences -- one to a salon in Barrie and the other to a salon in Windsor, the Star reported.

In January, Chomiak said the proposed relaxation of alcohol-serving rules will result in licences for "unique hospitality experiences." Until the regulations are written, the precise nature will not be known.

George Andrews, the proprietor of River Heights grocery and wine store G.J. Andrews, hopes he'll be able to offer a glass of wine -- either as a free sample or for purchase -- to customers strolling through his shop.

Right now, he can only offer half-ounce samples. Ideally, he'd love to be able to offer larger samples or sell an entire bottle, pour one glass of wine and then cork the rest, much the way restaurants are allowed to do.

"Obviously, this has to be done responsibly," Andrews said. "You don't want to have someone going to have their hair done and coming out inebriated."

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2013 A4

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Updated on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 8:46 AM CDT: adds photo

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