Brighton bar told it must serve food with alcohol

Twisted Lemon Alley
Twisted Lemon Alley

Cocktail bar Twisted Lemon’s bid to sell booze on its own has failed.

The popular bar in Middle Street opened with a restaurant licence and has been told that it must sell food with its cocktails.

It had come to the attention of Sussex Police and Brighton and Hove City Council licensing department for selling alcohol without food.

A failed test sale in December 2018 was the third time that the bar had been censured for selling alcoholic drinks without ‘substantial food’.

The owners Mark Friel and Todd Williams were told in a letter that a council licensing panel had considered the individual style and operation of the business – and the nature of its exceptional circumstances.

Twisted Lemon’s barrister Charles Holland had insisted that if the terms of the licence were relaxed, the bar would continue to operate as it had for years, which would not change behaviour in the area.

But the owners were told they had to show that they had exceptional reasons to be an alcohol-led business as the bar is in an area classified by the council as the ‘cumulative impact zone’ at the heart of the night-time economy.

Middle Street was described as within an area ‘saturated with premises licences’ and where the police have described the high levels of alcohol-related crime and disorder as ‘second only to West Street’.

In the refusal letter the owners were told that the cumulative impact zone had been in place since 2008 and, even though no crimes were directly linked to the business, they could not argue it had not contributed to problems in the area.

Mr Friel told the panel, which met at Hove Town Hall on Friday, March 15 that it was likely that the business would have to close as his customers were not interested in food and enjoyed the cocktails.

The council licensing panel’s refusal letter said: “Overall, while the panel appreciates the difficult position the applicants find themselves in, the panel considers that the removal of the restaurant condition will mean that the premises will be almost 100 per cent alcohol-led in an already saturated and challenging area.

“This is likely to contribute or continue to contribute to negative cumulative impact and will undermine the licensing objectives in particular the prevention of crime and disorder and prevention of public nuisance.”

Twisted Lemon was approached for comment.