An iconic Soho club has held on to its premises licence after multiple complaints led to it being reviewed.
The New Evaristo Club, formerly Trisha’s, on Greek Street will stay open after councillors opted to suspend its licence while new measures are put in place including staff training and ID scanning.
A report from the Council’s licensing authority had recommended that the so called ‘speakeasy’ be stripped of its licence due to several breaches including lack of available CCTV and failure of staff to report incidents on site.
Acting committee Chair Councillor Iman Less said that the panel had concluded that revoking the licence would be ‘disproportionate’, and instead chose to suspend the venue’s licence for 14 days, to allow the changes to be made.
She said: “The sub-committee views a review of a premises licence as a serious matter and expects premise licence holders to comply with their licensing conditions and promote licensing objectives.
“In this case, neither happened. It was apparent to the sub committee that the licence holder was struggling to run and manage the premises in a responsible way that would help promote licensing objectives.
Cllr Less said that the venue management should have got professional help and expressed disappointment that the proposed new designated premises supervisor (DPS) was not present at the hearing.
She implied that the committee had also taken the popularity of the unique club into consideration before deciding what action to take.
She said: “The sub committee took the view that the premises should have obtained the relevant professional help to overcome the difficulty the licensing authority expressed in their review application, together with the supporting view of the police and the environmental health, before matters got out of control.”
Despite being able to continue trading, Patricia Bergonzi, the club’s owner and namesake, will no longer be the licence holder, and the venue will have to comply with new conditions, including compulsory ID scanning and improved staff training.
However the committee stopped short of banning either Ms Bergonzi and her son, Dani Bergonzi from holding managerial positions.
Representing the Metropolitan Police, Gary Grant KC said that the Mr Bergonzi, the venue’s assistant manager, was ‘up to his eyeballs’ in problems.
Summing up, Mr Grant said: “We do ask you give proper consideration to revocation.
“Our proposed condition is that Patricia Bergonzi and Dani Bergonzi are not to be involved in the day-to-day running of the premises.
“Where you have effectively a family run establishment, the risk is you bring in a DPS, and that DPS will always defer to the family who own it.”
He continued: “The issue with Dani, I’m sorry to say, is that Dani has been involved throughout with the problems with this venue.
“You can see Dani at the heart of the problems and indeed attending meetings making promises that he then breaks.
Trisha’s said that it taken steps to rectify issues raised including upgrading the CCTV on site and argued that it didn’t have an extensive history of police incidents.
Mr Bergonzi himself apologised, saying he ‘held his hand up’ for the licensing breaches, and that responsibility for upholding the conditions in the future would be with the new DPS.
Cllr Aisha Less, the council deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, public protection and licensing said: “This decision gives Trisha’s sufficient time to make the necessary changes set out by the licensing sub-committee to ensure the venue can operate safely and legally.
“The committee has considered legitimate concerns raised about safety from residents, the police and city inspectors but has also taken into account the willingness from the owner to make changes to preserve a historic Soho venue and unique part of Westminster’s heritage.
“The conditions from the License Sub-Committee highlight considerable changes in conduct and practice that need to happen in order to meet the minimum standards of the licence agreement.”