Pub boss hits out at coffee shop drinks licences

A pub chain owner said that it was too easy for coffee shops to obtain drinks licences enabling them to serve alcohol.

Golden Lion Group managing director Dave Day spoke out as he objected to a licence application by the Small Batch Coffee Company, in Church Road, Hove.

The coffee shop, which fronts on to Wilbury Road, has applied for a licence to serve alcohol from noon to 10pm.

Mr Day has seven pubs and bars in Brighton and Hove, including Hove Place, in First Avenue, and Libation, in Second Avenue.

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He told a Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel that that there were 14 coffee shops between Palmeira Square and George Street – and nothing to stop them applying for a licence.

At the hearing today (Tuesday 27 September), he spoke about when magistrates decided licensing applications rather than councillors and said that Small Batch lacked the experience to run a licensed operation.

Mr Day said: “The only reason they’re going for this licence is for the gain – the profit – if it works. I don’t understand the need for it.

“I’m very disappointed that the council and the police haven’t got enough power to stop these Mickey Mouse operations.”

Councillor Dee Simson, who chaired the licensing panel, asked about other licences held by Small Batch Coffee.

Council licensing officer Donna Lynsdale said that the company had drinks licences for its branches in Western Road and in Dyke Road, at the Seven Dials.

Small Batch accepted draft licence conditions proposed by Sussex Police which included restricting drinks sales to people seated at tables and served by waiting staff. Drinkers would not be allowed to stand at a bar.

Neither the force nor Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing department objected to the application.

Small Batch’s solicitor Heath Thomas said that the company wanted to offer brunch with cocktails and afternoon and evening drinks.

He said: “This isn’t going to be a stand at the bar, get it down your neck variety of premises that would otherwise suggest it is a wet-led drinking establishment.

“Substantial food will be available at all times the premises are open.”

There is no kitchen on site but a small oven for reheating meals. Food menus have not been finalised but are expected to include charcuterie boards with cheeses and cured meats.

Two councillors, Anne Pissaridou and Alex Phillips, who both described themselves as northerners, said that they had an idea about what constituted “substantial food”.

Councillor Phillips said: “Eating bits of meat is not what I would personally describe as substantial food. I’m northern, so something warm would tick my box as something substantial – not things reheated or some cheese and bread. That’s a supper thing, not a dinner.”

She was also concerned about potential noise nuisance from people drinking on the outside decking until 10pm but Mr Thomas said that no neighbours had raised objections.

The panel retired to make its decision which is due to be made public within five working days.

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