Owner makes decision after licensing panel cuts opening hours
Troy Le Page perfomed as Monroe Adams at CMYK
July 6, 2022
The owner of Wimbledon’s first gay bar has revealed he will close the venue after its hours were cut following concerns from police. It comes after officers were called to CMYK bar more than 10 times this year.
The force called for the bar’s licence to be reviewed after a number of incidents, including a man being bottled on the dancefloor. Following a meeting last week, Merton Council’s licensing committee ruled the bar should close early on Friday and Saturday nights – at 12.30am rather than 3am.
A decision notice said there have been problems outside the bar when large groups of straight men have been barred from entering for being too drunk. But Merton Council said the venue had not taken incidents seriously enough, one of which resulted in a customer having his teeth knocked out.
Despite having three weeks to appeal the decision, owner of the bar, which opened in 2019, Steve Sotiriou said he has been left with no choice but to close the bar. He expects this will happen in the next two weeks.
He said: “I spent £300,000 to do this great bar. There were a few incidents, nothing to do with the gay community, many were to do with straight people we had a battle on our hands to keep it as gay as we could.”
Mr Sotirou said he was given a written warning by police about a month ago but claims the venue was not given any help by the force. It is one of three places open late in Wimbledon, he said, and was popular after midnight for this reason.
The 59-year-old said: “I tried to give Wimbledon a bar for the gay community. I tried to do my best. If the police and people in Wimbledon don’t want that bar then I will close it.”
He said this weekend all of the bar’s staff quit after Mr Sotirou said it would soon be closing and until then he would relax rules on who was allowed in to run down the stock and make money in the final days.
The owner said: “I’m not angry and I don’t blame them. They all resigned because they don’t feel safe in there any more. I am allowed to open for another couple of weeks, I will open it to run my stick down and as far as a gay bar is concerned, I think it’s finished. I feel disappointed and that I’ve been let down by the police.”
He added that he planned to open another business on the site, but not a bar.
Merton Council’s licensing decision reads: “There is concerning evidence of persistent serious incidents occurring at this venue, which have not been adequately addressed or dealt with. Despite the steps taken, incidents have continued, including failures of security, and the arrest of a member of staff. It was noted that the incidents appeared to occur more on weekends than on weekdays.
“The representatives of the venue have sought to undermine the seriousness of the incidents during the hearing, including the ongoing consequences for injured customers or staff for example an incident where a customer required dental replacement work to the tune of £2,000 per tooth and continues to suffer ongoing migraines as a result of an assault at this venue."
Tara O'Connor - Local Democracy Reporter