Hornchurch Japanese restaurant rejects licensing officer's advice over late opening application

Elm Park Avenue, where the restaurant is based.

Elm Park Avenue, where the restaurant is based. - Credit: Daniel Gayne

A Japanese restaurant in Hornchurch rejected an officer's advice to reduce its requested opening hours in a licence application. 

Aozora Sushi, which is located at the junction between Elm Park Avenue, St Nicholas Avenue and The Broadway, refused to alter its late night and alcohol application, asking Havering’s licensing committee to consider its initial submission.

The restaurant opened roughly a year ago with a 10pm closing time, and is seeking permission to increase opening hours to between 11am and midnight and to sell alcohol during this period. 

It has been selling food and alcohol until late under a temporary licence for just over a month. 

Public protection officer Mike Richardson told Havering's licensing sub-committee on Monday (January 17) that he was concerned the street was "predominantly residential".

He said he had suggested 11pm as an amended closing time from Sunday to Thursday, with the restaurant allowed to stay open and sell alcohol until midnight on Friday and Saturday only.

This was rejected by the applicant. 

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The restaurant, which has seating for 20 people and is situated below residential properties, received no representations against its application from residents or businesses. 

Nira Suresh, an agent representing the applicant, emphasised that the restaurant was a small, family-run business which would only have a small number of customers even on Fridays and Saturdays. 

“Over the one and a half months they have been opening until midnight, there were no single complaints made, even during the busy times,” he said. 

Deliveries constitute a significant part of the restaurant's business, and the agent emphasised that alcohol could only be purchased for delivery alongside a meal. 

There was some confusion among committee members over whether people would be able to buy alcohol within the restaurant without purchasing a meal; the agent clarified they would. 

In response to the clarification, licensing officer Paul Jones said: “The licensing authority didn’t oppose this application based upon the understanding that alcohol supplies would be ancillary to food. 

“We don’t have any concerns that there is a restaurant at this location, but we would have concerns if there was effectively a bar." 

The agent said many restaurants allow customers to drink without buying food. 

“Clearly this application is a restaurant,” he added. 

The applicant will receive the committee’s decision in writing within five working days.