Will Ricker wins Westminster licensing battle

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Australian-born Will Ricker has founded a number of restaurants including La Bodega Negra, Casa Negra and XO
Australian-born Will Ricker has founded a number of restaurants including La Bodega Negra, Casa Negra and XO
Restaurateur Will Ricker has won an appeal against Westminster City Council to allow customers at his Soho restaurant, La Bodega Negra, to buy alcohol without food.

Ricker’s restaurant lies in the West End Stress Area, where the council generally opposes changes to licensing conditions, and his application was initially refused.

However, a district judge in the Magistrates Court ruled that the restaurant was an ‘exceptional case’ and a change to the licensing conditions would not add to the existing impact on the stress area.

The judge granted the appeal as originally applied for, allowing 24 customers at the restaurant to purchase food without alcohol until 10.30pm.

Lisa Sharkey, a partner at Poppleston Allen, the law firm that represented Ricker at the appeal, said:

“Our client was looking for a little flexibility in his trading to allow customers, many who regularly use the venue to dine, to stop by for a drink, without committing to ordering food. 

“As a venue that has been, without exception, trouble free, we were confident that the request would be looked upon favourably.

“Despite the initial refusal, I’m delighted that on appeal, the judge found in favour of our client and has allowed the change in conditions, albeit the venue is within a recognised ‘stress area’.

"It’s certainly rare that such a decision is granted in Westminster.  I believe it was an exceptional case justifying a departure from the policy”.

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