Police object to licence for bar claiming to be restaurant

Play House on Cumberland street. Photograph: Richard McDougall

A NEW venue due to open in the city centre is claiming to be a restaurant – despite promoting itself as York’s ‘number one fun bar’ – according to police.

North Yorkshire Police and City of York Council want to block plans for Playhouse Bar on Cumberland Street to open and sell alcohol until 2am every night of the week.

They say the new bar would have a “negative impact” on the area – which is in a zone in the city centre that already has high levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.

But the owners of Playhouse Bar – which has already been fitted out ready to open – say they will be running a family-friendly venue and will have bouncers on the door from 10pm until closing time.

A police report prepared for a licensing hearing on Thursday says: “PC Bolland explained the application described the business as a ‘games restaurant’ but had a terminal hour of 2.30am which was uncommon for a restaurant, and no food served after 10.30pm. [The owner] stated that the business wasn’t viable unless it operated as a bar/restaurant and opened until 2.30am.

“The owner asked ‘What would constitute substantial food, nuts, crisps on tables or people sharing a pizza?’

“The business model they are promoting of DJ nights and ‘York’s Number 1 Fun Bar’ does not in any way suggest that this premises will operate as a family-friendly restaurant, but will indeed be a bar with the main licensable activity being the sale of alcohol.”

The council has also raised concerns about the application, saying they would like to see the venue’s closing time moved forward to 11pm, a plan to manage noise coming from the building and for alcohol only to be served as part of a meal.

The organisation also said the premises has planning permission to be used as a restaurant, cafe or offices.

But in the licensing application, the owners describe the venue as a “games restaurant” and have said there will be retro arcade games, air hockey, pinball machines and pool tables.

It says: “The premises is run as a games restaurant serving food from 12pm to 10.30pm. Pool tables and table tennis are provided for customers.

“Playhouse are fully aware of the licensing objectives and their responsibilities of upholding these which is why they are providing high levels of CCTV, door supervisors and safety to ensure their establishment maintains the professionalism which they are fully aware and proud of.”

They say windows and doors will be shut from 11pm, there will be bouncers on the door in the evening and signs will ask customers to leave quietly.

The venue was previously home to Indian street food restaurant The Cat’s Pyjamas, which closed suddenly in March less than a year after it opened.

Playhouse Bar has been approached for a comment.