NSW REGULATORS SLAM LICENSEES

In News & Releases by Clyde Mooney

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NSW regulators have come down hard on two venues, with a life ban for ‘one of the worst ever’ offenders and hefty fines for ‘high-risk’ alcohol service.

NSW Police submitted a complaint to the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) about activities at Potts Point strip club Dollhouse, under Ulysses Flevotomos.

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It detailed numerous serious liquor licence breaches between 2014 and 2017, during the time Flevotomos was licensee of the venue, in Kellett Street.

In 2014 the venue had changed its business model from being the Iguana restaurant/nightclub to being a strip club. Female strippers performed striptease on a stage and in private rooms. Licence conditions precluded physical contact between strippers and patrons, and strippers were required to wear at least a g-string when not on stage.

CCTV footage seized by police showed numerous instances of naked or near-naked strippers and patrons engaging in sexual activity.

Also captured was numerous instances of strippers and patrons snorting cocaine in the private rooms, which in some cases had been supplied by the strippers or other staff.  

ILGA chair Philip Crawford said the offending was one of the worst records of non-compliance the Authority has ever dealt with, and found Flevotomos to be “not fit or proper” to ever again hold a liquor licence.

He was fined $10,000 and banned from being a close associate of any NSW liquor licensee for 10 years, and permanently banned from entering Dollhouse.    

“Life bans are reserved for the most serious offending and this case clearly falls into that category,” said Crawford. “As licensee, Mr Flevotomos showed a blatant disregard for the law by allowing a culture of indecent conduct and illegal drug use to thrive at the venue.”

The Authority reports Flevotomos has 11 court convictions for liquor licence breaches during his tenure at Dollhouse, and that the venue has not incurred any licence breaches since he was replaced in 2017. 

Coogee restaurant Little Jack Horner (LJH) licensee Brenton McHatton is facing penalties for being convicted for the unauthorised operation of his business as a bar.

LJH was a licensed restaurant with a primary service authorisation, meaning it could sell and supply alcohol to customers without meals, but only if its primarily business was always serving meals, as a restaurant.  

In December 2017 and February 2018, patrons were observed entering the venue and not invited to dine or directed to tables. Most patrons were standing and drinking alcohol bought at the bar. Minimal food was being served.  

An investigation by Liquor & Gaming NSW found the business was trading as a bar.

On 20 March in Downing Centre Local Court, McHatton pleaded not guilty to two offences relating to selling and supplying liquor contrary to authority. 

Magistrate Susan McIntyre found that at the time of both offences, LJH’s primary purpose was serving alcohol, and its capacity to prepare and serve food was not enough to fulfil licensing requirements, noting the venue “had to be a restaurant, start to finish, morning to night, every hour”.

He was found guilty, issued a conviction, and fined $12,000. He was also ordered to pay $11,300 in legal costs.

Liquor & Gaming NSW reports investigating several recent cases where a restaurant has “transformed” into a nightclub or bar, and director of Compliance Operations, Sean Goodchild, says they take it very seriously.

“These business models have a far greater risk of alcohol-related harm.

“Restaurants seeking to change their business model to become a nightclub or bar can apply to Liquor & Gaming NSW, which can then properly consider all relevant issues.”

The LJH licence has since been updated to better reflect the actual operation of the venue. The Local Court Magistrate decision has been appealed to the District Court of NSW.