Coffee shop in Hove seeks drinks licence to “enhance” customers’ experiences

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A coffee shop boss told a licensing panel that he wanted to “enhance” customers’ experiences by offering alcoholic drinks in the evening.

Simon Duddington, 39, director of the Botanist Coffee Co, said that he hoped to offer wines, spritzers and gin and tonics until 10pm that so customers could enjoy a summer evening.

Mr Duddington addressed the Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel after an anonymous neighbour objected to a licence application for the premises.

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He applied for a licence to sell alcohol at the Botanist Coffee Co from 10am to 10pm daily at its branch in Church Road, Hove, on the corner of Wilbury Road.

The Botanist Coffee Company Church Road/Wilbury Road Hove | Picture: LDR serviceThe Botanist Coffee Company Church Road/Wilbury Road Hove | Picture: LDR service
The Botanist Coffee Company Church Road/Wilbury Road Hove | Picture: LDR service

The objector was concerned about noise and the possibility of the venue becoming “just another bar” in a residential area.

At the hearing today (Tuesday 9 July), the panel – Labour councillors John Hewitt, David McGregor and Alison Thomson – were told that the objector was contacted several times but did not respond to invitations to appear before the panel.

Mr Duddington, a director of the Big Food pub company which runs The Pond and Easy Tiger at the Hampton, said that he took on the business from Small Batch last October and was aware that there had been a lapsed licence.

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He said: “We knew that (the licence) had been a possibility but we hadn’t done anything about it.

“Once we opened in November and were trading a few months, we started to get customers saying how lovely it would be in the summer because the terrace faces west. We’ll get sunsets when there is sun.

“So we thought it would be a good thing for them to be able to enjoy sundowners – and what we’re experiencing at the minute is getting to 5pm and it feels like a bit of a waste and we’re hindering people’s experience.”

The company has no plans to allow customers to stand and drink – and draft conditions agreed with Sussex Police would require customers to be served by waiting staff while seated at tables.

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Substantial food would have to be available at all times, with menus showing hot and cold food options clearly displayed within the venue.

Mr Duddington said that customers would place orders at the counter before being seated and their food and drink would be brought to them.

The panel retired to make its decision which should be made public within five working days.