Cafe owner wants 'to prove what we’re about'

Joe's Garage cafe and restaurant in Frederick St.
Joe's Garage cafe and restaurant in Frederick St.
The question of when is a cafe a cafe and when is it a bar was at the centre of a debate during a liquor licensing hearing in Dunedin yesterday.

Go Fast Hospitality Ltd has applied for a new on-licence to sell alcohol from 8am to 2am at the Joe’s Garage cafe and restaurant, in Frederick St.

Bars and nightclubs have operated in the same building since 2004 and the disorder associated with those businesses led to the application being opposed by Capers cafe, Knox Church, Alexis Motor Lodge and neighbouring building owner David Linzmeyer.

There were no objections from the police, medical officer of health or licensing inspector.

During his submission, objector Capers cafe owner Simon Niak said it was difficult to tell if the business was a cafe or bar.

"I don’t know of any other cafe in Dunedin which is selling alcohol until 2 in the morning," he said.

Mr Niak said in the three years since the site was last used there had been a decrease in the amount of broken glass, urine and vomit left in the surrounding area and an alleyway between the venue, his cafe and Mr Linzmeyer’s building.

Joe’s Garage Dunedin owner Nick Nilsen stressed throughout the Dunedin district licensing committee hearing  yesterday his business was vastly different from those there before, as it was primarily open from 7am to 9pm and was run as a cafe and restaurant.

If a licence was granted, the venue would also host private functions and open later when there were events on in the city, such as rugby games and concerts at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Mr Nilsen, who also owns the Lone Star Cafe and Bar on George St, said he had spent more than $1 million on refitting the venue, including improved sound-proofing, to ensure it did not negatively affect nearby businesses and residents.

He also pointed out there were already restaurants in the area selling alcohol without any issues.

"I totally understand the concerns of the objectors but we would like the ability to prove what we’re about and what we can achieve in that space."

In a response to a question from Knox Church minister the Rev Dr Kerry Enright about the number of events planned for the venue, Mr Nilsen said there could possibly be up to 20 a year but he could not give a definitive answer until he was able host them.

At the start of the hearing, committee chairman Colin Weatherall pointed out to the objectors the committee could not base its decision on previous businesses and licence-holders.

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