by Kate Larkindale
I thought it was important that all our Penthouse customers know what is happening over Easter weekend. The new liquor licensing laws that came into effect in December are making it so we are not permitted to sell alcohol on Good Friday or Easter Sunday unless you are at the cinema for a meal (and that’s not just a bowl of fries, apparently).
This came as quite a surprise to us, because in previous years the fact we are an entertainment venue excluded us from these laws. When the law changed in December, the District Licensing Agency sent out a flyer outlining the changes, but there was mention of the fact those of us with Entertainment Licenses were no longer exempt from the ban on trading on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The first we were made aware of the change was when we received a letter from the DLA dated March 19th. This letter made it clear that should we want to sell liquor on these stat days, we would need to apply for a Special License. You need 20 working days to apply for a Special License. Because we received the letter on March 20th, there were no longer 20 working days until Good Friday.
But we applied anyway, asking for the application to be accepted because we were not aware of the need for license until after the closing date. The DLA accepted our application, and our money for it.
Last week we received notice that both the police and the council had opposed our application. To appeal, we need to go to a hearing, but all parties need 10 days notice for this to go ahead, and there were not 10 days left before Good Friday.
So we are not going to be able to sell wine or beer to patrons going to the movies on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. We’ve never had a single problem with the sale or supply of alcohol here, or with people becoming disorderly as a result of drinking here. Yet our license was opposed, whereas the Westpac Stadium, who have had numerous warnings and issues with loutish, intoxicated behaviour, managed to secure one.
Is this justice?
I urge you all to write to your local councillors, MPs, Ministry of Justice or anyone else who might have influence on the DLA. It is ridiculous that in this modern, secular age, a religious holiday can take the choice away from consenting adults. I’m all too aware that the country’s drinking culture is unhealthy – I worked on Courtenay Place for the last 8 years; I’ve seen it all – but this is not the way to change things.
So please, if you come to the Penthouse on Friday or Sunday expecting to get served a tasty alcoholic beverage, be aware we are not permitted to sell it to you unless you are ordering a meal. Our staff are just following the law when they refuse you, so don’t take it out on them. Save your frustration and direct it at the people who may be able to affect change.
Kate Larkindale is operations manager of the Penthouse Cinema in Brooklyn