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Dartmouth funeral home to soon start selling alcohol during visitations

Dartmouth funeral home to soon start selling alcohol during visitations

Truro Daily News

By Zane Woodford, Metro Halifax

June 16, 2015

DARTMOUTH – A funeral home in Dartmouth will soon become the first in the province to give those grieving the loss of a loved one the chance to do so with a drink.

Atlantic Funeral Homes’ Main Street location was granted a liquor license in April, and has plans to start serving booze at visitations in July.

“Everyone always talks about the old Irish wakes,” general manager Mark Hooftman said on Monday.

“When you’re celebrating a life, the celebration could be many things to different people, and for some people it could mean alcohol.”

Hooftman says the company was getting requests from many of its customers for alcohol at visitations. That meant applying for a special occasion license every time someone wanted to toast a dead relative with, for example, a bottle of the dearly departed’s favourite whiskey.

There is no liquor license for funeral homes, per sé, but Hooftman says he applied for a license with the province’s Liquor Control Board anyway, and they made what he calls a “groundbreaking” exception.

Service Nova Scotia spokesperson Tracy Barron says it’s not really an exception: there’s an “other” box on the form, and any funeral home can apply.

For now, only the Main Street location will be licensed, but Hooftman says he has a meeting with the board Wednesday to discuss licenses for the company’s other two locations – in Sackville and Halifax.

Hooftman sees little risk for the board in giving Atlantic Funeral Homes a license; he says his employees will be well trained, and because people will only be there for a few hours, it’s not likely that someone will abuse alcohol.

“If a family member does have too much to drink, we have a fleet full of limousines … we can drive people home,” he said.

Hooftman stresses the practice will be considered on a case-to-case basis, but he envisions, “At one time, if it’s meaningful and appropriate to the family, that we could have a bar set up across the hall during their visitation.”