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Meat grill cafe plans move into empty Kentish Town pub

Smoky Corner wants to open in old Auntie Annie's Porterhouse pub

06 October, 2020 — By Richard Osley

The empty pub on the corner of Patshull Road

IT has stood empty for more than half a decade, the pub on the corner where pints were once poured and there was laughter long into the night.

Now a new grill wants to open up in the building once home to Auntie Annie’s Porterhouse and, for those with longer memories, the Wolsey Arms.

Trouble is, the neighbours who moved into new flats above after the pub was closed down and the site was redeveloped to create private homes have lined up a list of objections.

Camden had been due to decided whether to grant an alcohol licence to Smoky Corner, as the new cafe and restaurant will be called, on Thursday.

But panel chairman Councillor Leo Cassarani said the application had been withdrawn and would not be heard.

The pub, called simply Annie’s Bar in its final days, was closed in 2014 and work began on creating new flats upstairs. They have since been sold between £400,000 and £600,000 each.

The future of downstairs has been less clear-cut and attempts to open a branch of the Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay and then a dental surgery fell away. Briefly, Foxtons was in line to open a branch in the building but the introduction of another estate agent to the shopping street was loudly opposed by amenity groups in the area.

In its application, Smoky Corner say it will be a cafe for breakfast in the morning and become more and more like a restaurant as the day goes on. Meat will be cooked on an open grill in sight of customers.

How the pub used to look

Residents in Founders House – the name of complex of seven flats built above – have filed objections ahead of last week’s scheduled hearing.

“Upon purchasing the flat, I was assured by the freeholder that the premises below would not be a drinking establishment. I’m incredibly anxious about the noise pollution of a late-night restaurant. My concern is heightened by the fact that the restaurant will be serving alcohol, which will inevitably cause people to become louder,” said one, adding: “I am a vegetarian and therefore, the smell of a grill below my home would be very distressing and contrast with my ethical choices.”

Another wrote: “There is also the concern that the smoke will waft into surrounding flats damaging upholstery, carpets and clothing. “There are already a couple of businesses on the opposite side of, but further along, the road that operate a grill or deep fryer, and the smells from those businesses frequently waft into the surrounding homes.”

The objections have published by the council ahead of the meeting, “The proposed licensing hours, until 11pm, coupled with the sale of alcohol, are distinctly out of character with the current atmosphere of this section of our high street,” said another upstairs neighbour.

The Smoky Corner application has told licensers that “the focus of the premises is on food and not a great deal of space on the ground floor has been given over to a bar or stocking an extensive alcohol range.”

It said that its menu would focus on “steaks, authentic kebabs, rotisserie and burgers”, and there will be no beer on draught.

Police raised objections but later agreed a list of conditions with the applicants including the rule that “there shall be no vertical drinking at the premises.”

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