Starting this week, the Clutha District Returned Services Association planned to start serving food a couple of nights a week - just do not expect to buy a beer to wash your meal down with.
The RSA branch is fighting to re-open its club on Clyde St but will have to wait until at least next year, following three objections by Balclutha residents.
One objection was withdrawn, but the other two mean there must now be an Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority hearing to decide whether or not a liquor licence should be granted.
Club president Des McBride said he understood the objection could be about the opening hours the RSA applied for.
It applied to operate the club between 7am and 1am to cover ANZAC Day commemorations, but did not plan to regularly open for such long hours, Mr McBride said.
It was eight years since the RSA itself ran a club on the main street premises, and the leasees who were running a tavern on the site closed their doors 12 months ago.
The RSA had approval from the police, the district health board and the council to re-open the club, but the authority has informed them, a hearing would not happen until February or March 2014, Mr McBride said.
''It is not going to be easy but we're in it for the long haul''.
RSA members along with its executive committee were determined to see the doors open as soon as possible.
RSA secretary Janice Ellis described it as ''bureaucratic rubbish that was closing down history ... the RSA is one of the most historical things we own as a nation.''
Until it had permission to sell alcohol, RSA members planned to open a couple of nights a week to serve food, tea and coffee.
Mr McBride explained that if the RSA won the hearing, the club would only be open to members and invited guests, and would not be a public bar.
It would be run by volunteers, with members having to gain a bar manager licence at their own expense, he said.
Members of the executive committee said the RSA was an important part of the community and running a club would provide the means to maintain the building.
Mr McBride also saw the re-opening as way of securing more members to ensure the RSA's future, he said.
''I've got a lot of memories of relatives and others that lost their lives overseas.''
The Clutha District RSA has about 70 members, the youngest was 18.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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