Front Street restaurants have pledged to up their game after the Liquor Licensing Authority warned that they could be operating outside of their licence.
The watchdog raised concerns that the Bermuda Bistro, Pickled Onion, Docksiders and Café Cairo appeared to morph into nightclubs after 10pm in contravention of their restaurant licences.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Rick Olson, owner of the Bermuda Bistro, and Reed Young, owner of Docksiders, both said they would be applying for the more expensive and onerous nightclub licence in light of concerns raised by the LLA.
Phillip Barnett, who runs the Pickled Onion, maintained that under the current legislation his establishment was not a “nightclub” and would seek further legal advice on the issue.
“We are going to do what is required and what is right in order to be compliant,” Mr Barnett told The Royal Gazette.
Meanwhile, lawyer Richard Horseman, acting for Café Cairo, told the LLA that food was served at the establishment until 2.30am and also suggested that the existing legislation needed to be looked at closely.
Addressing Mr Olson, LLA chairman Juan Wolffe said: “We have a very real concern as to whether or not the Bermuda Bistro after 10pm transforms into a nightclub effectively.
“We have seen pictures of various events taken from Facebook that suggests you are not running a bona fide restaurant after 10pm.”
Mr Olson responded that his establishment served a full menu until 2am and had made a host of improvements — which drew praise from LLA members — in the last year. However, he confirmed that he would be applying for a nightclub licence in light of the concerns.
Referring to pictures and flyers of events held at Docksiders, Mr Wolffe said: “It does not look like a restaurant; you need to have the right licences in place and you can have two licences at the same time. Should we be expecting an application for a nightclub licence?”
Mr Young replied: “Absolutely”.
In response to similar questions from the LLA, Mr Barnett acknowledged that six tables were moved to make a dancefloor at the Pickled Onion, but maintained that venue did not fall within the definition of nightclub as set out in the Act because it did not play music for more than four hours every day of the week. He also suggested that the current legislation governing the granting of liquor licences needed to be clarified.
Mr Wolffe responded: “We are open to suggestions; we can be the voice of businesses to make amendments to the Act.”
The chairman of the LLA also urged Mr Barnett to see if an “amicable resolution” could be reached in a long-running dispute between Victoria Grill and Rum Bar and residents in a neighbouring block of flats over late-night noise and music.
The residents of the Dundonald Street property were represented before the LLA hearing by lawyer Gretchen Tucker who said the residents’ board had filed an objection to the renewal of the restaurant’s liquor licence.
“We do not want to see their licence revoked,” she said. “We would like to see conditions preventing them serving alcohol after midnight, playing music after midnight and having a DJ after midnight.”
Mr Barnett maintained that the complaints had been made by just a handful of residents and his business had tried to work with them and introduce noise-reducing measures at the premises. Mr Wolffe said: “We would like to see there be some amicable resolution; we don’t want to stifle business but the residents need the quiet enjoyment of their premises.”
A hearing has been scheduled for 1pm on May 7.