'High-risk' Queenstown bar gets temporary licence

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014

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A Queenstown bar plagued by incidents - including a drug-snorting DJ, naked punch-up and a drunk duty manager - can keep operating for now.

The Powder Room has operated on temporary authority licences since September last year. Police vigorously oppose a permanent on-licence.

A hearing for a three-month temporary licence was heard by the Queenstown Lakes District licensing committee on June 9.

Sydney-based Kiwi lawyer Rajesh Patel took a major share in Barra Pista, which owns the Powder Room.

In yesterday's written ruling, committee chairman Bill Unwin said the Powder Room posed a number of problems.

"The business under discussion is high risk in that the premises are designed for vertical drinking, there is encouragement of drinking shots, the company has a focus on music and dancing, and there is precious little attention to food . . . Mr Patel seemed to have little knowledge of the details of the business he has taken over."

The committee granted a temporary licence to operate until September 1, or until a decision was made on the application for a permanent on-licence. However, closing time was cut back to 3am with no outside drinking. 

November 23, 2013, 2.15am: A male patron, who had "removed his clothing and was naked", bumps into another man on the dance floor. The naked man is punched and three men are removed. None face court charges.

December 10: Sergeant Kate Pirovano checks the bar and notices a temporary duty manager has glazed eyes. The manager is breath-tested, returning a reading above the legal driving limit of 400mcg.

March 23, 2.51am: "Graphic" footage shown to the committee features a barman preparing lines of a "substance" on a clip board on the floor behind the bar. He snorts it then offers some to a DJ. The duty manager later asks them to leave. The barman's work trial is terminated and the DJ has not been re-booked. 

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