Licence To Swill

Dennis says:

“I blinked, and suddenly my letterbox had no less than four notifications from the council for licences, or variation thereof. Here we go…

(1) Pistachios Café Bar
(2) Café Sol
(3) Phillies Snack Bar
(4) Green Village Restaurant

…all of whom want to sell booze until the wee smalls, and the last of whom wants so many conditions removed from their “restaurant” licence that they could be mistaken for a pub.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed a surge in applications, or is it just here?”

The Phantom replies:

Wow – you get notices of planning applications through your door? Where do you live? Clearly ‘Well-Informed Street, SE10.’ Bet you get the local rags, too, like the News Shopper and The Guide. All that comes through The Phantom Letterbox is a never-ending supply of pizza flyers, notifications of ‘special’ knocked-off electrical goods sales at the William IV and invitations to consult Professor Manjou, the medium who is 100% accurate, you know. Oh – and Greenwich Time, of course.

But enough of the jealousy and back to the licence applications. Four at once, eh. And all the classy joints, I see. I wonder whether they’re linked in some way – some sort of subprime Greenwich Inc, created by a new seedy svengali who’s gradually taking over all of Greenwich’s worst establishments and turning them into an local chain of UberDives. At least Greenwich Inc takes over the good ones…

Cafe Sol is still trying to live down that eek-y Environmental Health debacle a few months ago, when sundry wildlife species were found in the kitchens. They’re using the “A Big Boy Did It And Ran Away” chestnut, and it was under ‘former ownership’ at the time, but I’m not in any hurry to eat there just yet. As for the others – well, we all know about them.

I’ll be surprised if the applications succeed. Greenwich Town Centre is developing a serious drunken-lout problem and I can’t see the Council doing anything to fan the flames. I recently had a long missive from Nic – who gave me blow-by-blow (sorry) account of a particularly unpleasant day he had which left him at the very least short of cash, short of breath and short of temper, but replete in the bruise department.

But I can see why these places are chancing their arm. Cafes and restaurants, good and bad, are suffering – and will suffer increasingly as cash gets tighter all round. They see drinking establishments like Wetherspoons cleaning up (financially, if not literally) and fancy a piece of the action. I suspect we will see more desperate measures as the year progresses.

The odd thing is that these places could weather the economic storm if they really wanted to. They all of them have prime spots in the town centre, a dream to places like Inside and The Guildford, which people seek out because they’re good.

All these joints have to do is actually serve good food and word would get round among the locals, instead of their relying on the gulliblity of tourists. Even in tight times, people like to eat out occasionally – but they want to know their experience will be good. Any of these places could up their game and become somewhere that locals flock to eat. But instead they take a pot shot at the easy route – serving overpriced drinks to drunken arses.

It will be interesting to see if they succeed.


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