TORONTO — Best Bar None (BBN) — the Ontario chapter of the internationally recognized accreditation program that promotes higher standards in the sale and service of alcohol — will be expanding to include 1,400 eligible licensed establishments in Toronto and 108 establishments in Ottawa’s ByWard Market.
In an announcement made yesterday at the Eaton Chelsea hotel, Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), discussed the outcomes of the first year of the pilot program, which was launched in partnership with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and community partners.
“I am very happy to be telling you about Best Bar None as it enters the second phase of the pilot project to expand in Toronto’s downtown area and onwards to Ottawa’s ByWard Market. Last year, we launched Best Bar None as a pilot project in Toronto’s Entertainment District that encompasses approximately 175 licensed establishments. This pilot served as an opportunity to show where we needed to work in the program and where we needed to invest efforts.”
Results have been positive, Elenis said, citing a survey that showed 71 per cent of patrons feel the program is necessary, while 83 per cent said they would be likely to attend a BBN-accredited establishment, singling out safety as the most important reason for the draw. And, results showed the program was successful in bringing the number of infractions down at accredited establishments — from 250 infractions in the pre-pilot stage to 160.
The next step, says Elenis, is raising the profile of the program so patrons can become more familiar with the program. In addition to increased print advertising and partnerships with sponsors such as the LCBO, The Beer Store and Smart Serve, BBN members have distributed more than 10,000 promotional cards at sponsored stores and accredited venues.
Meanwhile, as applications are beginning to be received for the next year of the pilot program, operators of accredited establishments can look forward to an awards ceremony in the spring; it will spotlight top performers in categories such as “Best Club” and “Best Restaurant.”