Stratford's secret illegal bar is not so secret or illegal, its owners say.
Brock Engelen, co-creator of The Shady Sheep Baa, has defended his "ultimate man cave" after claims the watering hole was illegal.
The storage shed bar on Celia St was not a commercial venture, he said, but rather a place for friends to hang out, have a few drinks and play some pool.
"I was a bit surprised to hear we were meant to be an illegal operation," he said.
"I didn't know it was illegal for mates to meet like this."
Although there was an industrial-sized beer fridge, a pool table, a darts board and a projector in the shed-bar, Engelen said the venture was just for fun.
"We don't sell anything," he said.
About a year ago Engelen and three of his mates starting drinking in a storage shed that he owned because it was easier to clean the shed than the house.
"After a while we thought, ‘this is kind of like a bar. We should probably name it'."
Drinking in the shed-bar was a lot cheaper than drinking in a pub, and the friends had crammed up to 40 people in the storage shed at once, he said.
"We've never had the police here or had a complaint from neighbours.
"We are just a group of mates hanging out on a Saturday night," the 26-year-old trade qualified engineer said.
Engelen's bar made headlines in yesterday's Taranaki Daily News after Chris Hince, of Hospitality New Zealand, used the bar as an example of illegal watering holes operating in Taranaki.
Yesterday Hince said even if the four friends were not selling alcohol as he had been told they were, they could still be running an illegal operation.
Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act it was illegal to provide a "de-facto tavern" or a "place of resort", Hince said.
"If it's a dedicated place to come and drink, even if you're not selling alcohol, then it is different than having mates over for a party or a barbecue."
Hince said he was unaware of any private bar that was not selling alcohol which had been prosecuted under that part of the act as there was no legal precedent.
"I can't actually say they are breaking the law if they say they are not selling alcohol," he said.
"But they are in a grey area."
Hince encouraged the four men to obtain a liquor licence and become a part of the hospitality sector.
"They seem to be running something that's quite a cool space."
- Taranaki Daily News
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