Toronto
1 min

Barn under fire

Alcohol And Gaming Commission Of Ontario increasingly finicky

TRYING HARD. Janko Naglic says he's being picked on. Credit: Xtra files

The future of the city’s oldest gay bar is on shaky ground as cranky neighbours and the Alcohol And Gaming Commission Of Ontario kick at its foundations.



“Anywhere I turn, I know somebody is trying to close me down,” says Janko Naglic, owner of The Barn/The Stables.



Naglic faces an AGCO board hearing Sep 5, aimed at permanently revoking the bar’s liquor licence. Over the past year, he’s been charged with several infractions, including overcrowding and allowing liquor to be taken into the washroom. The Barn’s been around since 1975 and, he says, the liquor inspections have been increasingly finicky.



“I feel like I’m the biggest criminal in the city,” says Naglic, adding that he’s seen inspectors smelling cups for booze and search odd corners for errant beer bottles. He says he does his best but preventing patrons from taking their drinks in the stairs or washrooms is a hit and miss affair.



The neighbours have become finicky, too. Though The Barn was at Church and Granby long before it was a residential area, members of the McGill-Granby Village Residents’ Association have decided The Barn’s out of place there. They’ve written the AGCO complaining about noise and the behaviour of patrons outside the bar. Some people also don’t like the pink Naglic painted the building last year.



“It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing,” says association vice president Ian Gemmell. “You’re not showing very much respect to a historical building by painting it like that.”



Gemmell says the problem started for him last year when he put his hand on the exterior wall of the building and “could feel the damn thing shaking.”



Naglic says he’s made efforts to improve things. He’s bought a sound system that better contains the effects of the bass. He’s says he’s been stricter on his head counts in order to avoid overcrowding. He mentions wanting to paint the Granby side of the building beige. And he’s put in a proposal to sound-proof the existing patios and make them part of the licensed area of the bar. The association is blocking him from doing that.



As far as association secretary Barb Caplan is concerned, whatever Naglic has done is not enough.



“Nobody’s reported having a better night’s sleep,” says Caplan. “He’s never contacted our residence association or made any move to show that he agrees there’s a problem.”