REPORT: Hugo's in Kings Cross is closing, crushed by Sydney's pub lockout laws

Hugo’s Lounge. Photo: Supplied

Hugo’s Lounge in Kings Cross, a long-time cornerstone of Sydney nightlife, looks set to shut after a collapse in business induced by the state lockout laws introduced early last year.

The bar, pizza joint and nightclub on Bayswater Road, a venue of choice for everything from first dates to costly corporate hospitality, has seen declining business since the introduction of the 1.30am lockout which specifically applies to licensed premises in Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross.

According to a report by Michael Koziol in the SMH, Hugo’s is now under the administration of HLB Mann Judd. It will trade this weekend but will shut next week if no buyer is found. According to the report, owner Dave Evans:

said revenue had declined 60 per cent since 2012, when an initial batch of alcohol restrictions was applied specifically to Kings Cross. The business had since cut trading hours and shed 100 jobs; its remaining 70 staff were summoned to a lunch meeting on Wednesday and told they would likely lose their jobs.

Kings Cross has been transformed since the introduction of the lockout laws, which were aimed at reducing street violence and followed the death of Daniel Christie from an assault in 2013. The changes include 1.30am lockouts in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross, no alcohol service after 3am, a statewide ban on takeaway alcohol after 10pm and a freeze on new liquor licenses in the two designated areas.

Research published earlier this year showed a dramatic fall in assaults in the Kings Cross area. Here’s the key chart:

Assault trends in Kings Cross. Source: Bocsar

Researchers cautioned, however, that crime fell across the state anyway, and it remained unclear if the reduction in assault “was due to a fall in alcohol consumption or a change in the number of visitors to Kings Cross and/or the Sydney CBD entertainment precincts or both”.

Such a dramatic change in numbers of people in an area is going to bring businesses to their knees.

Around a dozen other well-known pubs in the Cross have closed this year. There’s more at the SMH.

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