Restaurant wants private dining booze licence after Covid hits it hard
- Credit: Anthony Kelly/ Andy Newman Associates
A city restaurant wants to make better use of its swanky private dining room by selling alcohol - much to the fury of its next-door neighbour.
Roger Hickman, owner of his namesake's restaurant on Upper St Giles Street in Norwich, is asking the city council for a licence for his first-floor private cubby.
He says the move is necessary as part of his Covid recovery plan.
The aim is to open the room to private diners between 10am and midnight seven days a week, serving alcohol until 11.30pm to allow for adequate "drinking up" time.
According to a spokesman for the business, the room opened in 2019 and was used for occasional private dining events in the run up to the pandemic.
But now the business needs to make full use of the space.
Mr Hickman said: "The last 18 months have been incredibly tough for the hospitality sector.
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"We've not been able to trade for much of that period, but have had to meet ongoing costs like rent, insurance, staff pension and national insurance costs — including for furloughed staff.
"Since we were able to re-open we've had a lot of support, but we've still got a lot of catching up to do. And that's just to get us back to where we were before the pandemic."
He added: "The private dining room is part of our recovery plan and will add capacity to help us grow.
"It's allowing us more space so diners can feel comfortable in the current climate.
"A vibrant hospitality sector is important for Norwich: it helps the prosperity of people living here."
There is one objection to the plans, however, and that came from Mr Hickman's neighbour.
His concern is that the private dining room is right next to his own living room.
Council documents reveal he doesn't just hear noise from the room, but can sometimes "interpret what people are saying".
He adds: "My concern is that licensing the private room until midnight seven days a week would make normal life in my house impossible."
Mr Hickman's spokesman confirmed the restaurant had recruited a "qualified noise and acoustics expert" to recommend "necessary mitigation measures" on the neighbour's behalf.