Under fire Queenstown bar allowed to trade

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A Queenstown bar with a colourful recent history has been granted temporary authority to trade.

Queenstown Lakes District Licensing Committee agreed to allow Searle Lane ‘s Powder Room to trade with reduced hours.

Earlier this month, Otago Daily Times reported the bar’s owners Barra Pista Ltd were under fire after a series of unsavoury incidents came to light.

They included a contracted DJ and a barman on a work trial allegedly snorting cocaine behind the bar, a fight involving a naked man and a drunk duty-manager.

Barista Pista Ltd applied for a new ‘temporary authority’, enabling it to operate until its application for a new on-licence had been determined.

But the application was opposed by Queenstown police and the Queenstown Lakes District Council, both parties concerned about the applicant’s suitability. 

Other issues at the bar – formerly known as Mini Bar – included a manager without a work visa, no food at the premises and unsuitable advertising promotions, some involving shots of alcohol.

In its decision, the committee says the onus is on the company to prove on the balance of probabilities it is a “suitable entity” to hold a temporary authority.

“Given its history … we certainly had concerns about this issue. We accept there have been no incidents for two months but it has been a quieter time between seasons with less pressure.

“What has persuaded us to grant the application is the presence of a [new] clearly competent manager.

“We have confidence that with his guidance and direction, the object of the Act [Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act]will be more likely to be achieved.”

However, given the object of the Act, the type of business and the company’s management and trading history to date, the committee thinks it necessary to reduce the trading hours to “reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm … and give the police and inspector more opportunity to monitor the premises”.

The committee granted the authority from July 1 to September 1, or until the application for an on-licence had been determined.

It also noted it “anticipates the company may wish to review its promotion of shots”.