Over the weekend, Giovanni Paradiso, owner of 10 William St, a wine bar located in Sydney’s Paddington, said that police accused his venue of promoting unsavoury, antisocial behaviour.
According to Paradiso, police visited the bar over the weekend and raised concerns that a blackboard promoting the venue’s wine by the glass offering was too close to the bar and could encourage excessive drinking.
The SMH reports that police were also concerned about a sign on the front of the bar which promoted its additive free wine as “free wine”.
Paradiso posted on 10 William St’s Instagram page “So according to NSW Police Force our blackboard with what we are pouring by the glass is promoting unsavoury antisocial behaviour. Sydney what the f&%@! Is happening.”
NSW Police have since released a statement clarifying their position on the incident. The statement reads:
“At 11pm on Saturday 6 February 2016 police were called to assist a heavily intoxicated woman in the gutter outside a licensed premises at 10 William Street, Paddington. Police assisted the woman into a taxi.
Police noticed the licensed premises had a sign saying “free wine”. Police noted the premises was operating on a Primary Service Authorisation (PSA) as a ‘restaurant’. This means the premises is licensed to operate primarily as a restaurant, and not a bar, and may only serve alcohol with a meal in a dining area.
Observations led police to believe the premises was operating as a bar, not a restaurant. A large number of patrons were consuming wine. A large wine list on the wall made no reference to food service. No tables had menus on them. A bar area with a large amount of wine and spirits was observed. The kitchen was closed.
Police informed the licensee that the premises appeared to be operating as a bar, not a restaurant. Police informed the licensee that a ‘small bar’ liquor license may be more suitable for his business, instead of a ‘restaurant’ license.
No action was taken against the business, despite breaches being detected regarding failure of the primary purpose test (operating as a bar not a restaurant).
This took place during a wider police operation targeting alcohol-related violence, anti-social behaviour and compliance with the Liquor Amendment Act 2014.
During the night of Friday 5 February and Saturday 6 February 2016, police from the Central Metropolitan Region, as well as the Alcohol & Licensing Enforcement Command (ALEC) conducted an operation across Sydney City, Kings Cross, Surry Hills and Newtown Local Area Commands.
Such operations are conducted by police to ensure the safety and security of local residents, visitors and the wider community in Sydney’s major entertainment districts.”
At the time, the incident attracted significant attention from the hospitality industry, with chefs including Darren Robertson from The Three Blue Ducks and Constantin Kautz from Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel sharing their frustrations.
"Say goodbye to small restaurants & wine bars in Sydney. This is a disgrace and an embarrassment – our government are a bunch of conservative morons who will kill Sydney night life as we know it. This infuriates me," restaurateur Carmel Ruggeri posted on Facebook.
The incident comes just days after a report from the City of Sydney found that late night foot traffic in Sydney’s CBD and a number of its surrounding precincts has continued to decline in the wake of the lockout laws’ introduction.
The report suggests that the introduction of the city’s lockout laws in February 2014 may have helped to reduce levels of anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence. It found that Friday night foot traffic in Kings Cross – recorded at 11pm – counted 2,000 fewer pedestrians when compared to pre-lockout laws figures in 2012, representing a drop of 58 percent, and 4am foot traffic in Kings Cross and Oxford Street dropped by 80 percent when compared to 2012 figures.
Since the introduction of the laws, a number of hospitality businesses have had to close their doors, including Hugo’s Lounge, which was placed into voluntary administration in July 2015 following a 60 percent drop in revenue since 2012.
At the time, owner Dave Evans said “We said it [the lockout laws] would destroy business, we said it would destroy staff, and here we are.”