Casa Cruz restaurant in London's Notting Hill is to have its licence suspended for six weeks after hosting singer Rita Ora's 30th birthday party during lockdown.
The Metropolitan police sought for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to revoke the venue's premises licence, however the council's licensing sub-committee decided to suspend rather than revoke the licence, with conditions.
The restaurant saw significant support from residents, with 44 representations arguing that the venue was a valuable community asset, with some of its 39 employees being locals. Residents also said they felt more secure with its presence and the doorman in the street. No residents submitted representations supporting the restaurant losing its licence.
According to council documents, on 28 November 2020, when England was under a national lockdown, representatives of Ora contacted manager Scottie Bhattarai seeking to hold an event inside the premises for ‘drinks and nibbles' and offered £5,000 for the venue.
Bhattarai attended the restaurant to facilitate the event, which is understood to have hosted about 17 people, including model Cara Delevingne and her sister Poppy. Police attended the premises but were unable to gain access with the windows blacked out and doors locked.
Police visited the premises on 1 December to meet with Bhattarai, during which he stated that he had allowed the venue to be used on 28 November but that he was the only person on duty at the premises and the arrangement was purely between him and the party organiser.
He was asked to show officers the CCTV footage from the evening, to which he stated he could not do as the security from the private party had asked for it to be turned off.
A lawyer on behalf of the restaurant said the company "unequivocally and unconditionally condemns" the incident and that director Nicholas Fallows did not know about or authorise the party. The £5,000 offered is understood to have not been received and within four days of Fallows finding out about the incident, Bhattarai was dismissed from the company.
Fallows has agreed conditions, including preventing Bhattarai from managing or working at the restaurant again and extra safeguards to ensure CCTV is operational, as well as meeting with residents twice a year.
The police's investigation into the individual and company are ongoing.
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