Ethiopian eatery vows to fight decision after losing booze license due to ‘violence’

Menelik, in Caledonian Road

Menelik, in Caledonian Road - Credit: Archant

The boss of a popular Ethiopian restaurant stripped of its alcohol licence after police complained about violent crimes says he will fight the decision.

Menelik, in Caledonian Road, Islington, lost the right to serve alcohol at an Islington Council licensing committee last week due to what police called a number of very serious incidents in which excessive drinking seemed a common factor.

But Samuel Arbi, who has been catering for the borough’s estimated 15,000 Ethiopians at Menelik for 21 years, said there was a lack of police evidence and he would carry on opening as normal until his appeal is heard.

He said: “The police did not supply my lawyer with any evidence even though it was asked for a number of times.

“They finally supplied some evidence at the last minute and it showed the last real crime that could be linked to my premises was more than a year ago.

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“The council said they had seen fights and scuffles outside my premises, but that was six incidents in two years. In any event, these incidents occurred away from my premises and mainly without my knowledge.

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“I am very disappointed with the way I have been treated and I intend to appeal this decision. In the meantime, I will be open for business as usual.”

In his report, Pc Paul Hoppe described an incident in which a customer, who had already been banned for slashing someone’s face with a broken bottle, allegedly threatened to kill a bouncer with a kitchen knife.

In another fight, Pc Hoppe said, a man had his tooth knocked out by a friend and another man suffered a fractured jaw after five men attacked him.

Paul Convery, Islington Council’s head of community safety, said: “There is a long history of trouble associated with Menelik and the committee had no confidence the management could get a grip on it.”

The restaurant has 21 days to lodge an appeal. If it does so, it can continue to sell alcohol until the appeal is heard.

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