The owners of an award-winning Brixton venue fear the pub will close unless Lambeth council lifts licensing restrictions placed on it.
Police wrote to Hootananny, in Effra Road, last week, informing them that they were breaching their licence by allowing customers to enter after 11pm. The bar was told it could continue to stay open until 3am, but last entry had to be 11pm, not 2am as previously.
Hootananny co-owner Sophia Yates said confusion had arisen after they had taken over the licence from the former Hobgoblin pub at the site. Since the days of the Hobgoblin the owners have turned the building into a successful late-night live music venue.
She told the Blog: “This restriction is devastating news as without the support from our community and beloved customers it could effectively mean the end of our award-winning business.
“Until we are able to change our licence, we are worried that we won’t be able to keep afloat and the more people we can get in through our doors before 11pm the better!”
The pub is applying for a licence review to change the hours, but fears the restriction could spell the end of the popular nightspot. A review could take up to two months to complete.
Ms Yates said that having to close down Hootananny would be their “worst nightmare”.
She added: “We turned away over 700 people this weekend, obviously that was traumatic. We lost half our trade which plunged us into loss, of course our weekly overheads as you can imagine are very high, so we are being forced into bringing the entrance charge of £3 charge forward to 9pm just to survive financially and we hope that our customers will be supportive of this change.”
Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for public protection, said: “We are working with Hootananny’s management to resolve an increase in complaints to the council and police about the venue. All we are asking is that the venue complies with their existing license.
“We expect this venue and all others in the borough to be run responsibly and in total compliance with their licences so that disturbance to residents is minimised. We welcome well run businesses that show respect for their neighbourhood and work with residents and the authorities in dealing swiftly with any problems that may arise.”
More than 900 people have now signed an online petition entitled “Save Hootananny Brixton.”
Among those to sign was bar staff member Francesca Ronai Agoro. She said: “I was a regular for five years and now I’m a member of staff.
“This pub is my life. Restricting entry after 11pm will put me out of a job and take away one of Brixton’s best establishments.”
Another, Robin Yates, said: “Late-night Hoots has become a way of life – and a living – for tens of people, a performing and entertainment magnet for thousands (winning London and UK awards), and a vital social and economic force for the good of Brixton, Tulse Hill and Herne Hill.”