Under city plan, dance clubs restricted to the downtown

They started operating an exclusive dance club – with Latin music Friday and Saturday nights – over a year ago, but were told they had to get a zoning amendment because Windsor’s official plan doesn’t allow dance clubs outside of the immediate downtown.

The matter is going before city council on the consent agenda and is expected to be approved.

But Jhawar still finds it amazing the city is so restrictive when it comes to dance lounges.

“You can’t officially dance unless you’re on Ouellette Ave.,” he said.

“I can’t one hundred per cent confirm what I’m about to say but no other cities really do this.”

The couple opened Gourmet Emporium (pictured) in 2007 and started serving food throughout the day then added dancing on Fridays and Saturdays.

But after a potential sale to another party fell through, the couple decided they wanted more time for themselves and scaled back activities to just Latin music Fridays and Saturdays, which does big business.

“We weren’t making any money off the restaurant (but) the nightclub was successful,” Jhawar said.

Gourmet Emporium is now closed five days a week and opens only Friday and Saturday nights.

But there was another reason for having an exclusively dance club.

Jhawar wanted to provide an alternative to all the lounges downtown.

“When I got older I didn’t want to go downtown and that’s a huge motivation behind what happened here.”

“So I kind of created a place where I wanted to hang out with older people in a safe environment.”

He said there are many people, slightly older, who don’t want to go to downtown clubs, known for a much younger clientele and sometimes rowdiness.

“We cater to mature people who still want to do something after they’ve had dinner,” he said.

“And there’s a huge segment of our city and our community that does not want to be downtown.

“Generally they’re about 30 years of age.

“And that’s a bigger problem that the city faces – and we responded to that.”

City councillor Chris Holt, who represents the area, said the reason the owners are applying for an amendment now is because they didn’t realize they needed special permission.

“I think it was more of a misunderstanding on their part than it was trying to get away with something.”

Holt has ”no problem” with the application, calling the owners “good corporate citizens.”

Windsor city planner Justina Nwaesel said the entertainment lounge district has been part of the city’s official plan since 2005.

“Within that area only, you don’t need to rezone, outside of that area you’ll have to go through rezoning,” she said.

Nwaesel said the district was created based on historical trends.

“It seemed reasonable to maintain more of that use in such areas because it wasn’t necessarily close to highly residential uses.”

She said the policy is making sure that entertainment is kept largely within commercial districts.

“We’re also trying to make sure that people who have their homes enjoy their homes without excessive noise from the entertainment lounges.”

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