A PROMINENT Limerick restaurateur and publican has told Limerick District Court how he is trying to save one of his ailing businesses, following repeated objections to its licence.
Padraic Frawley, of the Cornstore restaurants in Limerick and Cork, said he has invested over €100,000 in Aubars over the past 12 years, but its trade has now been seriously depleted, from “doing breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week” to just two opening days.
“The business is now operating at 50% of what it was, and for the rest of the week it’s virtually empty with the exception of Saturday night,” he said.
Mr Frawley took to the witness box in the courthouse, following a sole objection to the dance license of Aubars by one of the upstairs tenants and owners.
The businessman claimed the couple, who have made numerous objections to licenses attached to the premises, are now “clutching at straws” after making “continuous objections year after year”.
Mr Frawley said the objector’s husband has attached a camera to the front of the building, which covers the smoking area, and also “stands and stares into the smoking area with a camcorder”, which he believes is an invasion of privacy and has been the subject of complaints from staff and customers.
He had agreed to buy the top three floors of the Thomas Street building during the boom for €400,000, but the sale was secured by Christine Kirwan and her husband, who live with their three children above Aubars and Paddy Frawley’s pub.
The couple, through their solicitor Ted McCarthy, claim that the premises is not abiding by the conditions of the licence set out by the court, but they have no objection to it being a licensed premises and continuing to operate.
Mr Frawley outlined to the court that under the terms of the license the music in the downstairs nightclub is turned off by 2pm, and the smoking area is vacated by 2.30pm. He said he has stepped up security measures to implement this, and no one is allowed into the smoking area with a drink after 2pm, or in the minutes leading up to that time.
But Mr McCarthy said this is not being adhered to, and in addition that music is being played in outside speakers attached to the premises after 7pm.
Mr Frawley conceded the music is occasionally being played outside “at a relatively low level”. He said the premises is cleared away as quickly as possible and there is CCTV footage to prove that.
The premises is licensed to hold 475 patrons, and he estimated that during busy periods only 10-15% of that - or up to 70 people - are in the smoking area. “It’s a busy street, with takeaways across the road and with the best will in the world we can’t take people off the street,” he told Judge Eugene O’Kelly.
The objectors stated they also had been subject to “aggressive noise” after 3am, during the clean-up period, but most of these works are now done on Sunday afternoon, Mr Frawley said.
Each party was asked to choose three dates within the last six months to view CCTV footage from outside the premises on these occasions. The judge ordered them to narrow down their material, saying: “I’m not going to look at three hours of nightlife on the street”. Mr Frawley’s defence pointed out that there has been no objection by the gardai to any of the licenses attached to the premises. The hearing has been adjourned to December 13 next.