Beer barrel blues in Barry’s Bay

Robert Fisher
Staff Reporter

BARRY’S BAY – The Beer Store in Barry’s Bay is closing June 16, according to information received from the company. A beer store, previously Brewer’s Retail, has been operating in the township for 75 years.

“The beer store was where the parking lot of Metro is now. My family owned it,” said Renfew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski. “We built in 1949, had a 20-year lease,” and in 1969 the store was moved to its current location on Highway 60.

Yakabuski is disappointed with the news of the closure. “A beer store is an anchor store in a community,” he said.

Joseph Olsheski is handling the lease for The Beer Store for the family company Olsheski Holdings Inc. (OHI). The family bought the property in the early 1990s.

The lease for the location ended March 31, 2024. Olsheski said the company received initial correspondence from The Beer Store (TBS) Dec. 12 with a lease renewal proposal. “Their proposal was to extend for another five years at the current rate,” said Olsheski. He said OHI countered with a small increase to the rental and no other proposed changes to the contract terms.

Olsheski said they had no response from the tenant until April 9 when they received an email with an attached letter notifying the landlord of TBS’s intent to turn the property back over to OHI at the end of June.

Yakabuski said the situation with The Beer Store is different from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), which the province owns. The Beer Store is a private company. “I do think we have some ability to influence these corporations and I believe there’s a corporate responsibility to the citizenry,” said Yakabuski.

The MPP said he intends to contact management at the corporation to express his concerns. He will also be speaking with Ontario Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy to find out what options the province may have under its Master Framework Agreement with the corporation.

Yakabuski said it’s not just people who go to pick up beer on a Friday night. The store is a wholesaler for local restaurants, it supplies other local agency store locations and it is the local bottle return location for beer, wine and liquor containers.

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