Camden Council has suspended the licence of Fitzrovia’s longest-running restaurant after hearing a police report on allegations of drug-taking and a sexual assault at the venue.
The premises licence of the Elysee Restaurant, 13 Percy Street has been suspended for six weeks, had its late opening hours cut back, and will only be allowed to open after a number of new conditions have been met, states a decision by a Camden licensing panel.
The Metropolitan Police had requested a review of the licence for the 86-year-old Elysee following an incident at the premises.
“The Police had reason to believe the premises were associated with serious crime on Saturday 10 September 2022 [and] an incident took place inside the premises involving patrons of the venue,” states a report for the licensing panel.
On 15 September the premises licence was suspended at a summary review hearing and a full review hearing was held on 4 October to review statements from the police and the restaurant’s representatives.
The Elysee opened in 1936 as a French restaurant before becoming a leading Greek eatery “beloved of the British and Greek royal families” along with screen and sporting celebrities.
Part of the licensing hearing was held in private at the request of the police, who said an investigation is underway.
It meant the public and the Charlotte Street Association which supported the review could not hear what the police and the restaurant’s lawyers had to say.
The restaurant had supplied letters of support from customers who said it is “very professionally managed”.
However, the Charlotte Street Association said residents were “very concerned” about the licence review because of “an alleged serious crime situation”.
They said it was extremely rare for a review of a licence in Fitzrovia and added: “It is of great concern to residents and families”.
They said there had been a previous review in 2011 after residents complained about noise. This had been unsuccessful.
They said terminal hours are “exceptionally late” for Fitzrovia and asked for the opening hours to be cut back.
Amran Ali from the council’s health and safety team visited in September after a complaint about smoking within the roof garden.
He said the area is enclosed so cannot be used for smoking, and it may not have planning permission.
During his visit he spotted shattered large glass panels on the floor of the roof garden and said that was a safety risk.
The restaurant’s barrister James Rankin said work is being done to make sure it is compliant.
According to its website the Elysee is “a venue second to none, this family-run establishment promises to continue entertaining and enchanting its guests for time to come whilst its discrete policies make it a retreat for those in the limelight”.
Supporters including the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots wrote in support of the venue.
President Andreas Papaevripides said: “It has simply been our place of joy.”
In his letter to Camden Council’s licensing committee, he said: “For the almost half a million strong Greek and Greek Cypriot Community the Elysee is simply their shrine of entertainment. Many generations, for almost a century, had unforgettable memories and enjoyed the original and traditional entertainment and culture with superb food and Greek music and dancing. “
Jason Charalambous, who is a solicitor-advocate, wrote that: “As a frequent customer I believe that Elysee is very professionally managed, and I have not witnessed examples of antisocial behaviour or disturbance giving any rise for concern.”
After a lengthy licensing hearing, much of it behind closed doors, committee chair Gio Spinella said the licence will be suspended for six weeks from 4 October until the venue “has trained all staff on welfare, vulnerability and engagement as indicated by the police”.
The venue also has to train all staff on Ask Angela policies — where customers can get help if they “ask for Angela”.
Conditions also include a proactive zero tolerance to drugs.
The licensing panel also decided to cut back the hours of the premises which was previously open until 4am on some days of the week.
The panel said the late hours for consumption of alcohol meant that there was a “heightened danger” to the personal safety of women and vulnerable people. For this reason the premises will be restricted to Camden’s “framework hours” which means they will have to stop serving alcohol at 11.30pm from Monday to Thursday, midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 10.30pm on Sunday.
The panel decided to be lenient on the length of the suspension. Councillor Spinella originally suggested that the licence be suspended for two months but his two colleagues, councillors Lorna Greenwood and Jenny Headlam-Wells, successfully argued to limit it to six weeks so that the restaurant could get up and running before the busy Christmas period.
Councillor Spinella said the committee opted not to revoke the licence but to give the venue a “final chance” to prove they can “provide a beneficial environment”.
Update 10 October 2022: Mail Online has reported that two men had been arrested on suspicion of rape at the restaurant.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police told Mail Online:
“On September 10, police received an allegation of rape reported to have taken place at the Elysee restaurant in Percy Street. Two men, both aged in their 30s, have been arrested on suspicion of rape. Both have been bailed pending further enquiries.”
The Elysee declined to comment to Mail Online.
A Camden licensing panel will again meet on Wednesday to conclude matters on the review of the premises licence. Licensing Panel B – Wednesday, 12th October, 2022 6.00 pm.
Editor’s note 10 October: A number of minor edits was also made to this page for clarity to distinguish between the summary review hearing held on 15 September and the full review hearing held on 4 October.
Additional reporting by Linus Rees.