Brighton ‘shisha’ garden granted drinks licence

Councillors have backed a business owner’s plans to expand alcohol sales into a garden area in a way that he said would allow him to keep better control of customers’ drinking.

Currently, customers can bring their own drinks to Vero Gusto’s “shisha garden” in St James’s Street, Brighton, because the licence to sell alcohol covers the shop and café area only.

Premises licence holder Ishag Salama said that he would have more control over managing customers’ alcohol intake with the extended licence – with customers able to buy drink only with a meal.

The garden, where people can smoke flavoured tobacco through hookah water pipes, is reached by an alleyway two doors up from the main business.

Sussex Police was concerned that the venue was moving away from being a licensed restaurant and asked a Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel to settle the matter.

St James’s Street is in an area where the council regulates new licences more tightly as part of a drive to reduce drink-related crime.

Council policy does allow for new restaurants in the area, as long as alcohol is served with food.

At the licensing panel hearing on Friday 15 October, Mr Salama said that he wanted to encourage people to eat at his premises.

The panel, made up of three councillors, said: “Overall, the panel considers that the licensing objectives will be better promoted by allowing the variation application to ensure better control of the outside area … The area will be covered by a restaurant condition.”

Vero Gusto has security cameras in the garden area as well as inside the premises and pledged to have staff monitoring the area at all times as required by the new licence.

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