Red’s True Barbecue Leeds: Call Lane restaurant faces permanent closure without major restructure
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Bosses claim it needs to be allowed to sell booze to customers who aren’t eating if it is to reopen and survive. A restriction on its current licence prevents the venue from doing that.
They’ve also applied to Leeds City Council to extend alcohol sales until 2am, 90 minutes later than is currently permitted.
But the authorities have objected to the plans, claiming it could allow the diner to become a bar by stealth and add to booze-fuelled crime in the area.
Speaking at a licensing hearing on Tuesday, Red’s solicitor Paddy Whur told a panel of three councillors: “The issue with Red’s is that the current cost-of-living crisis has pushed up the raw materials for high-end meats here by 40 per cent.
“It’s very difficult to put all of that additional charge onto the customers, so they need to find ways of moving the business on.
“It’s a change we’re seeking that’s needed for the survival of the business.”
The venue falls into a so-called “red zone” in Leeds’ cumulative impact area, which is designed to limit new licences unless venues can prove they won’t add to issues in the surrounding area.
But Mr Whur said it would “tragic” if the venue had to close permanently and end up as empty unit, “boarded up and not in use”.
The hearing was told that Red’s other diners, in Manchester and Nottingham, have closed, with the owners wanting to concentrate on keeping the Leeds branch afloat. It has been a fixture in the city centre since 2012.
But council licensing officer Sue Duckworth warned the proposed changes could make Red’s “just another 2am bar, after 11pm”.
“This is an area that’s in trouble,” she told the hearing.
“We have a high level of alcohol-related violent crime in the area. There’s a high density of people who come and have a drink, enjoy themselves and they become vulnerable and are often victims of crime.
“We’re talking about a concentration of 30, 40, 50 premises in a very small geographical area.”
Concerns around rising crime were echoed by West Yorkshire Police, while a council environmental health officer said she was worried about the later trading hours disturbing residents in nearby flats.
The panel’s decision was not given at the end of the hearing and will instead be made public in the coming weeks.