A restaurant co-founded by Love Island star Kem Cetinay is fighting for its late-night licence following a stabbing outside the venue last month 

Array Essex calls itself a “flashy operation” with food, drinks, DJs and dancers in a former country pub in Shepherds Hill, a rural lane near Harold Hill.

Opened in early 2021 by Mr Cetinay and business partner Bilal Gul, 38, the venue is now facing calls from neighbours, the council and the police for its late-night licence to be cut back.


Public concerns peaked last month when a 33-year-old man was stabbed outside. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Allegations raised at the meeting yesterday include street brawls, shouting, loud music, parking on driveways, speeding sports cars, “drug use” outside and public urination.

According to a police statement to the committee, there is an ongoing investigation into the stabbing, alleged to be by suspects who were outside the venue inhaling “nitrox oxide balloons”.

READ MORE: Man stabbed on Harold Wood's Shepherds Hill

Local ward councillor Darren Wise said he has received 43 complaints from residents, including about noisy “gang fights” outside the venue in August and September involving weapons and “metal bars”.

Cllr Wise argued the licensing hours granted in the early days of lockdown in 2020, allowing it to stay open until 1am Thursdays to Saturdays, were “disappointing”.

He added that closing time should be cut back to 11pm as the owners’ intention appeared to be to run a “nightclub”.


Barrister David Dadds (right) suggested local councillors had been taking money. Image: Havering Council

Barrister David Dadds (right) suggested local councillors had been "taking money". Image: Havering Council


Lawyer David Dadds, hired to represent Array, alleged that local councillors have only complained about the bar after “taking money” and later food from the owners.

However, Cllrs Wise and Brian Eagling repeatedly denied this, insisting their residents’ association had only invoiced Array for advertising in their residents’ association newsletter.

Cllr Eagling said he went to the venue when it launched and only ate “finger food” and claimed that he had warned Kem that the direction of the speakers could disturb residents.


Designated premises supervisor Bilal Gul, 38, attended the hearing. Image: Havering Council

Designated premises supervisor Bilal Gul, 38, attended the hearing. Image: Havering Council


According to Companies House, Kem resigned as a director of the company that owns Array on November 25.

Complaints submitted to the committee by neighbours and supported by reports of calls to police at the time included “Lamborghinis” racing up and down the hill and later using Array’s car park in October.

In February police escorted a man to safety after he was found “bloody” and hiding in a neighbour’s garden after allegedly being assaulted by a group of men.

A neighbour, who gave evidence at the committee, claimed she had film footage of owner Bilal Gul “verbally” threatening her after she complained about parking. She confirmed that she later withdrew the allegation due to a fear of "repercussions". 

PC Chris Stockman said he had meetings with the management about implementing a dispersal policy to control customers leaving the venue three months ago, but had heard nothing since.

Environmental health officer David Dovey claimed repeated warnings about shisha being illegally smoked indoors were not resolved until the bar “knew we were about to prosecute”.

The licensing hearing is due to continue on Monday, December 5 to hear arguments from Array’s legal team.