Compromise for new Brighton restaurant as councillors limit number of people who can drink in bar area

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Staff at the Caribbean-inspired restaurant, which opened on June 11

A new Brighton restaurant can serve drinks to 20 customers seated in the bar area before or after a meal.

The Rum Kitchen, a Caribbean themed diner, had applied for a licence that would allow it to serve three times as many drinkers.

Parent company Icarus Leisure Soho wanted permission for 45 people seated in the bar area and 15 others to stand to drink while waiting for a table or after their meal.

But the old Jamie’s Italian premises, in Black Lion Street, is in an area of Brighton where tougher alcohol licensing policies apply to tackle the saturation of premises serving drinks.

The owner also wanted an off-sales licence, to allow for deliveries, and to stay open into past midnight on some nights.

At a Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel hearing last month, the Rum Kitchen’s barrister Richard Wormald said that the restaurant would only deliver to home and work addresses.

Mr Wormald said that a midnight closing time would work but allowing diners to stay and drink at the bar was more of a sticking point.

He said that the owner wanted to run the Rum Kitchen in a similar way to the Ivy and Browns where, he said, diners could relax with a drink after their meal.

A rival business operator, Leo Day, a director of the Golden Lion Group, owner of the nearby Cricketers pub, said that this was in effect 'a Trojan horse' for an alcohol-led or 'wet' venue.

Sussex Police shared concerns about drunk customers becoming victims of crime in Black Lion Street if too many people stayed on after their meals drinking into the night.

The licensing panel, made up of three councillors, said in a decision letter: “The panel shares the concern of those making representations that a bar area operating with a capacity of 45 persons with some vertical drinking especially at the end of the evening will pose an unacceptable risk in this challenging area and would be likely to add to negative cumulative impact.

“The balance between a restaurant and bar would be tipped too much in favour of a bar and there would be greater numbers of intoxicated patrons leaving the premises at once which was likely to undermine the licensing objectives.”

The venue’s licence conditions will require the venue to make substantial food available at all times when open.

The Rum Kitchen’s managing director Mike Parnham said: “We are excited to be in Brighton and we want the same things that the local authorities want – a safe environment for people to enjoy themselves – so we are happy to work with them.

“We are a different type of restaurant but still definitely a restaurant so this compromise allows us to recruit more local people and support more local businesses.

“Once we have six months’ trading under our belt, we will review again.”