Archway Tavern licensing woes could be resolved – freeing it up to open when lockdown ends

Manager Sokol Toska outside the pub. Picture: Polly Hancock

Manager Sokol Toska outside the pub. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Licensing issues causing the recent setback in the reopening of the Archway Tavern could be resolved next week – freeing it up to open once lockdown ends.

The Archway Tavern interior. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Archway Tavern interior. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Management opened the doors to the historic pub for the first time since 2014 in November, saying it would be pulling pints from Thursday to Sunday until it ironed out a few licensing problems with the council.

But up until the coronavirus lockdown opening hours were sporadic, extending what seemed to be a never-ending saga surrounding the pub.

The venue currently has an umbrella licence shared with Nightclub Koli upstairs and a bar at the rear of the building. But the sole licence for all venues means the tavern needs to meet the same conditions when open, including security staff.

Licensee Sokol Toska has now applied to split up the licence, meaning the pub could open without those requirements. The application will go before councillors on Wednesday next week in a virtual meeting.

Islington’s noise pollution team said there was a history of noise from the nightclub and said Mr Toska had a “long history of non compliance” with requests to moderate noise. It has called for strict conditions to be imposed.

Four local councillors have supported the plans but want the pub’s closing times to be adjusted to fit with recommended hours for pubs, rather than 4am at weekends and 3.30am on weeknights like the club.

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Junction ward’s Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Cllr Janet Burgess and Cllr Sheila Chapman, as well as Hillrise representative Cllr Dave Poyser, said in a submission before the meeting: “We are writing to support the reopening of pub area of Archway Tavern.

“This is an iconic building and should be used for its historic function, as a pub.

“There should be restrictions on hours when the outside areas of both the upstairs terrace and the area in front of the main doors can be used because of the noise impact on the area. We would also like a specific condition to ensure respectful dispersal of customers from the tavern in order to avoid loitering on Navigator Square.”

The pub famously features on the cover of The Kinks’ album Muswell Hillbillies and was last open fully as The Intrepid Fox in 2014. It was sold by Enterprise Inns last year to Wapping real estate company Searchgrade Ltd, whose director David Pearlman has the same role at commercial lettings firm Pearl and Coutts, which is headquartered in White Lion Street.

Mr Pearlman told the Gazette: “As a local business, we are as keen as everyone else for the pub to be restored to its former glory and reclaim its rightful place at the heart of the local community. As such we are pursuing all practical means to achieve that end.”