The owners of a new restaurant in Ilford accused of planning to open a shisha bar say they plan to reapply after they were refused permission to serve alcohol and late night food.
Brothers Niko and Gence Dauti are the owners of as-yet unopened Mediterranean restaurant The Brothers Lounge in Longwood Gardens, Clayhall.
At a licensing meeting held on July 28, residents and councillors accused them of plotting to introduce a shisha bar at a later date and fear residents will be disrupted by noisy customers.
The owners insist that while their original plan involved shisha, hence its inclusion on a poster advertising the business, this was no longer the case.
Responding to the council’s decision today, Niko Dauti said they planned to apply again, adding that he saw no reason for the rejection.
A separate licensing application for a smoking area will be heard by the committee at a later date.
Speaking at the licensing meeting, the brothers’ agent told the committee: “It’s not in our intention to disturb any of the local residents, our intention is to make the area better, not to make it worse.”
He added that the owners would not serve alcohol “to people that do appear drunk” and would be prepared to ban anyone behaving in a disorderly way.
He was keen to stress that plans for the building no longer included a shisha lounge, reminding the committee that it would be impossible to introduce this without a separate application.
The applicants have spent more than £100,000 on renovating the building, including installing acoustic insulation and buffering to reduce disturbance to local residents.
Both Labour councillors for the ward where the restaurant is located, spoke to the committee about their concerns.
Cllr Martin Sachs said: “Local residents, including myself, are concerned that the emergence of customers who have consumed quantities of alcohol at late hours will cause noisy disturbance, such as singing, fighting, slamming car doors and other raucous behaviour.”
Asked by committee member Cllr Jamal Uddin (Lab, Clayhall) if he had evidence there would be disturbance, he said he had received similar complaints from residents about other restaurants in the area that serve alcohol and close around midnight.
Fellow ward councillor Judith Garfield added: “It’s a very densely populated area and a very small row of shops.
“The restaurant is welcome there but there’s a lot of concern about noise pollution and anti-social behaviour.”
She added that the 34 objections received were likely to be “just the tip of the iceberg” and that there will be “a lot more” once the restaurant opens.
A number of objecting residents referenced the now-closed Doctor Johnson pub, which used to be on the other side of the road, stating they feared problems caused by the pub might return.