‘Violent brawl’ cafe in Finsbury Park set to open as karaoke bar

Cafe Sham, in Seven Sisters Road Pic: Google

Cafe Sham, in Seven Sisters Road Pic: Google - Credit: Archant

Troubled venue turns over a new leaf after closure

A cafe where mass brawls forced police to close it down may become an Eritrean karaoke bar.

Cafe Sham, in Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, was stormed by officers and hit with a three month closure order in December following a series of violent incidents.

But once the order expired it reopened as the Red Sea Cafe, and now the owners want permission to sell alcohol until 1am and allow customers to “do a five minute karaoke type music following a traditional song”.

An Islington Council licensing committee will decide the application tonight.

The proprietors say they want to offer advice to their 150 members, including to refugees about asylum issues, English lessons, housing issues and finding friendship.

They say they will “assist Eritreans in getting their immigration papers, giving them direction to education and life in the UK so they can adapt and become good citizens”.

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But licensing officers have expressed concern about the “tendency of the management of the premises to lock people inside the premises until the early hours with the metal shutters down”.

Police point to violent incidents, including one where a drunk man had his teeth punched out, as possible reasons to refuse a drink licence.

And those who live near the venue complain about erratic opening hours, which they say can run until 6am, drug dealing outside the premises, prostitutes offering their services, bottles smashing, fights starting and police being called “daily”.

One landlord of a nearby property said a tenant who complained about the noise was “threatened with a gun pointed at her.”

Residents also expressed concerns about problems connected to “drugs, prostitution and trafficking young girls for prostitution”.

Richard Padwell, Inspector for Islington East Cluster, said: “They didn’t have to seek permission to reopen, but the owners came to meet us at the police station to say what they were putting in place to reduce disorder and anti-social behaviour, like training their door staff in stewarding and installing CCTV.

“They appeared to have done that, and it bodes well that they came to us. But we will monitor the situation and if they don’t keep up it up, we will seek further enforcement action.