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Sopranos vows to remain in Victoria

Eviction fears follow B.C. Supreme Court ruling
Sopranos Karaoke and Sports Bar.

Whether it gets booted from its current home, Sopranos Karaoke and Sports Bar won't disappear from Victoria.

Sopranos' and neighbour business Poolside Bar and Grill's tenancy in the Traveller's Inn City Centre, at 1961 Douglas St., is on shaky ground after a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled last week that both businesses leases come second to the mortgages on the property.

"In my view the law requires more than simple notice of the respondents' unregistered (lease on) the property," Justice Keith Bracken wrote in his judgment.

"Even if the respondents are able to prove the petitioners had full knowledge of the respondents' interest in the property at the time the mortgages were granted, that knowledge is not enough."

That means both businesses can be evicted if a buyer for the motel comes forward wanting a vacant property.

The buyer could be Wally Meng, owner of the Red Lion Inn and Suites and Helm's Inn.

Before the court proceedings, he offered $6.3 million for the hotel, which is in receivership, and indicated he would reduce his bid if "noisy" tenants, such as Sopranos, remained and threatened the motel's profitability.

With Bracken's decision, Meng said he and mortgagors VanCity Savings Credit Union and Safety First Savings are back at the negotiating table.

"Everything changed (with the ruling), so the price may be a little bit different," Meng said.

"I will negotiate with the tenants. I was never going to kick them out immediately."

Suzanne Sadler, owner of Poolside, said with conditions getting increasingly tough for the food and beverage industry with the HST and drinking and driving penalties, she was "shocked and disappointed" by Bracken's ruling.

If Poolside is evicted, Sadler said, "we would move. We would have to relocate. And the thing is they would be losing a good tenant because there's no way they could find someone (else) who wants (that space). We would like to stay on as tenants and we think we're good tenants."

Sopranos acting manager Paul Seal said he isn't finished fighting.

"We have a 30-day avenue for appeal," he said. "(And) we've already been putting feelers out for another place."

VanCity declined to comment.