By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: June 7, 2012
District of Squamish councillors are fuming at Chef Big D’s owner’s decision to publicly deride them for his own mistakes.
Squamish, councillors say, is open for business, but not if that means ignoring or circumventing rules for one individual or a business.
For those uninitiated in the drama, Chef Bid D’s owner, Darin Stangowitz, didn’t care to ask the district if he needed building permits to expand his existing restaurant on to the next retail space.
He says it was his impression he didn’t need those permits.
“I read in the bylaws many years ago that you don’t need a permit as long as you are not doing anything to the structure,” he said.
Stangowitz said he doesn’t recall the name of the bylaw, but his interpretation called for no permits.
The district, he discovered much to his angst, saw things differently.
And so did those responsible for health and electrical permits.
So, when the district officials came asking for permits on last Wednesday, he put together last-minute drawings, and rushed to the district on Thursday.
He was told he would have to close down his business for the day.
But there, Stangowitz claims, a district official told him the closure could last for weeks, even longer.
He called all councillors and acting mayor Bryan Raiser, but no one except Ron Sander got back to him.
Worried and angry over the potential effects of a closed restaurant, he decided to call the Squamish Chief newspaper and FM Radio.
Not satisfied with the exposure, he also put up a “Squamish is not open for business” sign, along with a note decrying bureaucratic red tape.
For a few days, the site became a mini-tourist attraction, with people clicking pictures and shaking their heads over the district screw-up.
Stangowitz said he put up the posters to build public pressure because his livelihood was threatened.
“I was going to be closed for weeks to months, my livelihood was threatened, I was threatened that I was going to be closed for weeks,” he said.
That is one part of the story, councillors say.
Coun. Ron Sander said he was ‘very disappointed’ that Stangowitz chose to put up the sign. Sander said the owner decided to undertake a renovation of a public food service business without any permits.
“These permits are required in order to assure that the public is adequately protected from a safety and health perspective,” Sander said.
Sander said what is left unnoticed is how quickly the district acted even though getting permits involves time.
The file was expedited by staff.
“This is great work by district staff to assist a business owner that did not follow any permitting process,” he said.
Stangowitz says he had all the required health permits, although VCH media spokesperson Trudi Beutel says he didn’t show his plans to health authority before expansion.
The health permits were given retroactively, Beutel said.
Coun. Bryan Raiser said he is a ‘big fan’ of Chef Big Ds, but is disappointed at the tack taken by the owner, Darin Stangowitz.
Raiser hopes Stangowitz will make a quick public apology, so that “we call move on and continue to enjoy one of the best restaurants in town.”
Chef Big D’s owner owns says he realises his mistake, but he won’t apologise to anyone.
“Well, you could tell Bryan Raiser to…You could tell him…Why should I apologise to the district?”