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Dollis Hill restaurant wins battle for extended alcohol license amidst harassment claims

North London restaurant owner claims they have been 'harassed for years' by neighbour with 'personal vendetta'

A North London restaurant owner claims a neighbour has a ‘personal vendetta’ against their business after a stream of objections were made against its plan to sell alcohol an hour later on weekends. Residents had complained that this would ‘amplify antisocial behaviour’ in the area, however, the application was given the green light after none of them turned up to the hearing.

Brent Council approved changes to the licence of Portuguese restaurant Dollis Grill, located by Dollis Hill Underground Station on Hamilton Road, at a recent Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Sub-Committee (15 April). The owners will now be able to sell takeaway booze and extend its alcohol licence until 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

The owner claimed that the restaurant had only ever received complaints from one particular individual, who the owner claims has been ‘harassing’ them for the last two years and regularly calls them ‘the scum of Dollis Hill’.

The owner said: “It’s very serious. He sits in his car, with his camera, recording us. I don’t find that normal. This is repeated on an almost weekly basis. I can’t see myself being the ‘scum of Dollis Hill’, neither my family, or any of the people that come to us for a nice meal.”

The restaurant wanted to make the changes to the licence in order to ‘get better revenue and not to be outside of the law’, as the owner is currently scared to pour someone a glass of wine at ten past ten ‘in case the neighbour is recording’. They said: “People get upset at me. Friday and Saturday are two days that I think are reasonable to have a little bit more room to make a little bit more money.”

Prior to the committee meeting, objections had been received by more than ten residents, as well as two local councillors who raised concerns about the impact this could have on the ‘serious problem’ the Dollis Hill area is having with street drinking – particularly around the station. The restaurant was described as ‘intimidating’ to walk past because women are reportedly being subjected to ‘sexually explicit remarks’ by inebriated men from the open terrace.

Documents showed that Police had to be called out to attend a significant number of incidents in and around the restaurant in the past, with one of the calls to the emergency services being made by a councillor for Willesden, Cllr Saqlain Choudry. However, neither the residents or councillors were present at the meeting, nor did the police or noise team attend.

The owner told the committee that when the police had been called out to fights it was ‘nothing to do with [them]’ and there had never been a police issue on the premises. They said: “There are fights on the streets. There’s robberies. There’s people walking to the restaurant fearing for their lives because they are chased by gangs that want to steal from them. They actually come into the restaurant asking for help.”

The restaurant, which serves Portuguese and Mediterranean food and received a five-star food hygiene rating in February, also plays music on the weekends. Residents have complained that it is played ‘at night club levels’, preventing them from enjoying spending time in their gardens, or their living rooms too on occasion.

The owner said: “We are a very small restaurant […] I don’t think the music is aggressive in any way. We don’t have bands, it’s just a single person playing with an acoustic guitar with on and off singing.”

Dollis Grill has confirmed that it won’t be offering a delivery service but will be doing collections, with the new changes allowing them to also sell alcohol meaning it isn’t losing that business to nearby off-licences.

The changes were approved by the committee with a raft of conditions, including no music to be played on the outside decking, outside seating to cease after 11pm, and alcohol to only be served with a ‘substantial meal’. The committee also added an additional condition, in light of residents complaints, which requires the owner to ‘make available and publish a valid and up-to-date telephone number for the residents to make contact’

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