The leader of Kingston Council has called for the 10pm closing time curfew to be relaxed to 11pm in the run-up to the festive season.
Caroline Kerr said on October 23, that in light of Christmas holidays even one extra hour could make a difference to the ailing hospitality sector.
“Our local bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs…have done all they can to keep our high streets open in a responsible and safe way,” she said.
Kingston & Surbiton MP, Ed Davey, together with Kingston First and Chamber of Commerce supported this plea for the rule change during the call on Friday.
‘Another blow to hospitality’
Chief executive at Kingston First, Kirsten Henly, said that the 10pm curfew had dealt another blow to the hospitality sector.
She added that the restaurants, pubs and bars suffered a sharp downturn.
“Every measure should be taken to support our hospitality sector,” she said.
Restaurants staff welcomed this initiative as they braced themselves for a major profit drop compared to November last year.
Fabio Frusciante, chef of Italian restaurant Al Forno in Kingston, said: “We lose a lot of money because of this 10pm regulation.
“People used to gather in our restaurants with their families but not anymore.
“They don’t want to rush. They come here to enjoy a bottle of wine and relax, it’s not a fast-food restaurant.
“Even one extra hour will benefit our restaurant, no doubt about that.”
He added that waiters’ frustration was building up as they were unwilling to badger their customers to hurry up.
Turn customers away
Parsa, a waiter from local Persian restaurant Narenj, said: “For us, it never was 10 pm, we have to start closing as early as 9pm.
“What happens is, a customer turns up at 9.30pm or calls up to book a table at 9pm, and we have to say no to him.
“It takes around 10 mins to look at the menu, choose drinks, and then you have only half-an-hour to enjoy your food on Friday night – that’s unfair.”
This move is part of the Kingston Economy Recovery Task Force programme.
The Force is coordinating a raft of measures to facilitate the recovery of Kingston businesses in the aftermath of recent government restrictions.