Fears business will dry up amid 36 booze bans

Mary King's Close, the Point hotel, Al Dente restaurant and Scottish Storytelling Centre
Mary King's Close, the Point hotel, Al Dente restaurant and Scottish Storytelling Centre
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DOZENS of pubs, hotels, restaurants and cafes across Edinburgh have been slapped with immediate bans on selling alcohol, the Evening News can reveal.

The premises which have had their drink licences suspended for at least a fortnight include the Point Hotel in Bread Street, Heriot’s cricket club in Inverleith Row, the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the Royal Mile, and even The Real Mary King’s Close.

The city’s licensing board ordered the move after it heard the licence holders had failed to pay the fee, which was due in October last year.

But today one restaurant owner said he could be forced out of business because he forgot to send a £220 cheque.

Pancrazio Spano, who runs the Al Dente restaurant on Easter Road said: “I tried to pay my licence when I got the letter. I asked if I could pay online or with my card, but I was told I either had to go personally and queue at High Street, which would mean losing half a day, or send a cheque.

“I forgot to send the cheque.

“Now I’ve been told they have suspended my licence for two weeks.”

He said discount deals the restaurant was involved in meant he made little if any money from the food. “The only reason I’m surviving is because of serving alcohol. I’m risking closing the business and making three people unemployed.”

Mr Spano, 32, said he had started the business four years ago and worked hard all the time. “I’m here day and night, but instead of helping entrepreneurs they are stepping on your head.”

Craig Sherwood, licensee at the Three Monkeys pub in Portobello High Street, had not been told of his suspension when the News contacted him.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. It will mean I have to close. Two weeks closed will be a disaster.”

He claimed he had not received an invoice or a reminder about the fee. “It’s not that I can’t pay, but I’ve never had anything like that.”

The amounts owed vary because the fees are linked to rateable values. If the premises affected have still not paid after two weeks, the suspension will continue until they do.

Lawyer Alistair Macdonald, who represented several of the premises, said many of the businesses said they had not even received the demand for payment.

He said invoices were not usually sent to the premises, but the licence holder, which might mean a head office. He also said the letter did not appear like an invoice so may have been overlooked.

Licensing board convener Marjorie Thomas defended the tough stance.

She said: “They have been notified, they have had a reminder and if they have not made any effort to pay, that’s the action the committee felt should be taken to make sure those who do pay are not put upon.”

Tory councillor Alastair Paisley called for an urgent look at the way unpaid fees were pursued.

He said: “I’m concerned we don’t appear to have a robust method of collecting these fees.

“We should be looking at this as a matter of urgency, if not this board then the next one.”

The 36 premises named today include the Napier Students Association but it said it had stopped operating a bar at the named premises last year. Some other premises may also no longer be selling alcohol.

Losing their bottle

n Mercure Point Hotel, 34 Bread Street: West Register (Hotels Number 2) Limited

• Sighthill General Store, 493A Calder Road: Khalid Mahmood

• J&N News, 17 Causewayside: Muhammad Tayyab Hassan

• Chiangmai Thai Restaurant, 15 Dalry Road: Pairat Phombud

• DeAlto Bar, 130 Dundee Street: Barshelf 2 Limited, Unit 3

• Edinburgh Northern Rugby Football Club, 20 East Fettes Avenue: Edinburgh Northern Rugby Football Club

• Sami Swoi, 34 Easter Road: The partnership of SAMI SWOI

• Al Dente, 139 Easter Road: Pancrazio Spano

• Gorgie Minimarket, 214 Gorgie Road: Afrasiyab Latif

• Rana Food Store, 11 Gracemount Drive: Mohammad Tahir

• Oddbins, Unit 4 Gylemuir Road: Lee A Manning and Matthew D Smith - administrators

• Storytelling Cafe, 43-45 High Street: Partnership of Moira McFarlane and Richard Alexander

• The Woodside Bistro, 45 Ingliston Road: Carol McCloskey

• Heriot’s Cricket Club, Old Pavilion Goldenacre: Heriot’s Cricket Club

• Chinois China China, Unit 4, 61 Leith Street: Edinburgh Buffet Limited

• Goldbloom Limited, 91 Leith Walk: Caledonian Cash And Carry Limited

• Napier Students Association, 12 Merchiston Place: Napier Students Association

• Heavens Kitchen, 6-8 Morningside Drive: Stephen Harper

• The Clock Cafe And Grill, 394 Morningside Road: Murat Aksakalli

• Greens Health & Fitness Club, 15 New Mart Road: De Vere Group Limited

• Port O’Leith Motor Boat Club, 12 Pier Place: Port O’Leith Motor Boat Club

• The Three Monkeys, 87 Portobello High Street: Craig Russell Sherwood

• Julia’s Newsagents, 306 Portobello High Street: Julia Hood

• Kwok Brasserie, 44 Ratcliffe Terrace: Peter Kwok

• Carrick Knowe Licensed Grocers, 150 Saughton Road North: Khalid Mahmood

• Sunshine Supermarket, 7 Scotstoun Grove, South Queensferry: Ashfaq Hussain Mirza

• Seafield Newsagents, 6 Seafield Road East: Mohammed Sarwar Saleemi

• Kastouri Indian Cuisine, 35-37 Shandwick Place: Mohamed Yeaqub

• Saffrani Restaurant, 11 South College Street: Pawan Kumar

• Songkran, 24A Stafford Street: Thikumporn Davitt

• Zizzi’s, 2 Union Path: Ask Restaurants Limited

• The Real Mary King’s Close, 2 Warriston’s Close: Heritage Projects Limited

• The Jubilee Supper Room, 124 West Granton Road: Dante Cortellessa

• Noodle House, 34 West Preston Street: WXY Edinburgh Limited

• Goldbloom Limited, Westside Plaza: Caledonian Cash And Carry Limited

• 11A-15A William Street: Tourist Services (Edinburgh) Limited