Holloway bar boss vows to reopen legendary Red Rose Comedy Club

THE owner of one of Holloway’s most famous venues has blamed police for “killing” his business – but vowed to reopen its legendary comedy club.

Alparslan Bali, 38, manager of the Club Imperial nightclub in Seven Sisters Road – which was formerly The Red Rose comedy club – has appealed against an Islington Council decision to slash the venue’s licensing hours, forcing it to close at 1am every night.

Mr Bali said: “I won’t be able to make it work. No way. I will lose money. It’s not worth it. They have killed the business.”

The venue, which used to operate until 4am at weekends, closed in September last year after complaints of disruption by nearby residents and a spate of violent incidents led police to launch a licensing review with the council.

Mr Bali closed the club voluntarily ahead of the hearing last month, when councillors reduced the licence “in order to promote the objectives of the prevention of crime and disorder.”

“I had more than 20 people working here,” Mr Bali said. “Now they’re all unemployed. It’s no good. If your arm has a pain you don’t cut it off, you try to heal it.”

He continued: “They should have had a meeting with me before going to the committee. They could have asked ‘How can we solve your problems without killing the business?’ It’s not good for the country. I’ve invested a quarter of a million pounds in this. I’m upset.”

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Police said the recommendation was made to the committee “in the interests of public safety.”

Sergeant Robin Clark, of Islington police, said: “Club Imperial has been the scene of repeated violent crimes over the last 12 months. The level of violence is wholly disproportionate to similar well-managed venues in the area. Despite previous warnings the management appear unable to address the problems.”

Members of the licensing committee were told that most violent incidents at the club, which borders the Andover Estate and residential streets, occurred after 1am and that the restriction would limit disruption because alcohol consumption on the premises could be controlled.

Mr Bali rebranded the site as a nightclub in 2008, though it had once been a top comedy venue which helped launch the careers of Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard and Harry Hill. But now he says that whatever the result of his appeal, he wishes to reopen The Red Rose club – named after its roots as a meeting place for the Islington Labour Party – as a comedy venue and late-night bar, rather than a nightclub.

“I don’t want to lose any more money,” he said.