Sai Kung is a dog lovers’ paradise that burons in the FEHD are doing their best to wreck. A buron is a cross between a bureaucrat and a moron. They ponce about in white-shirted uniforms with gold bars on their shoulders like jet captains. They have been observed standing around in gangs of up to 20 on the waterfront, idly wondering who they can hassle next. Now they have banned people from sitting outside restaurants with their dogs, one of the joys of Sai Kung life.
Buronic behaviour may cause some restaurants to fail. Labouring under high rents, most restaurants operate on the thinnest of margins. FEHD action could cause some restaurants popular with dog lovers to lose 20 to 30 per cent of their revenues. Narelle Pamuk was blunt: “This regulation will not be adhered to by the people of the community.”
Rene Zuercher often sits outside restaurants with an enormous dog called Buddy. It lives at Catherine’s Puppies and Rene walks it. He has become very fond of Buddy. The dog is as docile as they come, usually lying flat on the ground legs splayed, loving everyone who approaches. “I am hopping furious about how this has been handled,” Rene said. He blames the FEHD but says restaurant managements should do a better job of explaining, perhaps with posters, to their customers exactly what their policies are and why. Carol Biddell said she asked FEHD’s senior lady for Sai Kung why the seafood restaurants are not hassled in the same way. The lady replied that dogs outside those restaurants usually happens only on the weekends and FEHD staff do not work then. Carol wondered if the government staff are frightened of the seafood restaurants’ people. She noted
they threatened to beat up her son after he asked them not to maroon horseshoe crabs on the pavement. SAI KUNG BUZZ spoke to Barry Collier, a director of Steamers (and a real jet captain). “We have done everything we can to cooperate with the FEHD. We got a licence to serve food outside after an enormous amount of effort. Some people have their dogs on chairs, licking off our plates. We tell them they can’t do this, they argue with us and sometimes refuse to pay their bills.” Barry said that because of increased FEHD action Steamers has had to ban dogs from its outside area completely. Two Government signs on Steamers’ front doors warn of fines of $10,000 and potential jailing for three months if dogs are found even outside the restaurant. The one who is fined, even jailed, is the restaurant owner who faces also losing his licence.
BUZZ has talked to managers at Casa, Grande, Big Fish and Cava. Courtney, new GM of Casa, said they are aware of concerns about dogs outside their new store on the former Sauce site which has an outside food-serving licence. It is not a problem at their older store in the alley because they don’t have that licence there and have no control over what dog owners do in the public area.
The burons don’t think things through. The English word “discretion” does not translate. They collect their iron rice bowl pay, look forward to their gratuities or pensions, and get through each bureaucratic day as “blinking idiots”, to borrow the Shakespearean term.
Have you noticed in Sai Kung that it is usually the people with dogs who appear the happiest? Look at Uncle, the highly regarded Jaspers’ staff member. Off work he goes everywhere with his golden dog. The burons are doing their best to erase his happiness and that of other dog owners. The quality of dogs’ lives will deteriorate too. Because of the burons, the dogs are more likely to be left at home. Some hard Some hard-working restauranteurs may close.
Well done, FEHD.
Clare Benson Lock, dog lover and restauranteur, offers a balanced view
“From my experience of dealing with FEHD for 15 years when we were at Sauce is that they are obliged to follow up on specific complaints. So, someone must have complained about Steamers. Dogs are not actually allowed on licensed premises, including licensed outdoor areas. But FEHD mostly turn a blind eye to dogs being outside. However it just takes one person to complain and the restaurant involved will get a visit and a warning. The penalties could be a fine, or even points against your license. Usually after a while it’s all forgotten about and if no more complaints the FEHD will not be required to follow up. This is not the FEHD’s fault, at least it’s not the officers’ fault, they are just following the rules and doing their job, whether you agree with it or not. Also Steamers may have been required to display the notices as indicated by the FEHD.
Ït’s very difficult to change the rules as that means it needs to come from the government and all kinds of departments would need to get involved. I also think that the explosion in the pet (and particularly dogs) industry has brought about this whole new set of problems.”