The NSW police have just responded to growing criticism of their visit to a popular Sydney wine bar on Saturday night, giving their version of events.
Following the incident, co-owner Giovanni Paradiso posted an Instagram photo claiming police accused the venue of “promoting unsavoury antisocial behaviour” because it had a large blackboard listing wines by the glass. The post has since gone viral, sparking a major debate about the city’s night life and leading to widespread concern in Sydney’s hospitality community that the city’s lockout laws and accompanying police crackdown had gone too far.
Police issued a statement defending their actions just after noon today, saying that 10 William Street failed the “primary purpose test” of its restaurant liquor licence.
They say that while helping a drunk woman in the gutter outside after 11pm, they noticed people inside drinking wine without menus on the table and the kitchen was closed.
The officers formed the conclusion that the venue “appeared to be operating as a bar, not a restaurant” in breach of its licensing conditions.
Police say no action was taken “despite breaches being detected”.
Here’s the full statement:
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.