Locals fight restaurant's liquor licence bid

Locals fight Victoria St eatery over licence

SHELLEY ROBINSON
Last updated 16:20 26/02/2014
Harlequin Public House
Dean Kozanic/Fairfax NZ

TOO NOISY: The Harlequin Public House has been forced into a liquor licence hearing after residents at The Metro Apartments building objected its bid for a permanent licence.

Jonny Schwass
DEAN KOZANIC/ Fairfax NZ
'NOT SO OFFENSIVE': Chef and co-owner Jonny Schwass.

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A popular Christchurch restaurant is preparing for battle after nearby neighbours objected to their liquor licence.

The Harlequin Public House has been forced into a liquor licence hearing after residents at The Metro Apartments building, only metres from the restaurant, objected to its bid for a permanent licence because they say it is too noisy.

Since opening in August, Harlequin has hit the headlines with neighbours complaining about the smell from its spit roast and noise from Sunday afternoon live music sessions.

Chef and co-owner Jonny Schwass said he had engaged lawyers for the March 19 hearing.

"I really don't think we are running anything so offensive," he said.

The restaurant operates under a temporary authority, which means it can trade until a permanent licence is granted.

A city council spokeswoman said the temporary authority expires on March 21.

Schwass said he had made changes, including restricting diners outside from 9pm.

Metro spokesman Glen Steele said the changes did not go far enough for residents.

He wanted the restaurant to return to indoor dining only, as it was before Schwass took over.

"I wouldn't have thought being outside after 9pm would have been so desirable due to the easterly [winds]," Steele said.

"They have parties outside, including staff drinks which keep on happening well past 1am - they went on until 3.45am one evening."

Schwass said he "absolutely, categorically" did not have staff drinking outside at that hour.

One resident from The Metro, city councillor Jamie Gough, said he did not have an issue with the restaurant.

"In my opinion the road noise is louder - you couldn't get a better neighbour than Johnny," he said.

Steele said Gough was an advocate for Schwass and "would be the only one in the complex".

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