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Book Café in liquor licence dilemma

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The newly-opened Book Café has been caught in a quagmire after its liquor licence could not be regularised in time for the venue’s official opening last weekend.

The old Book Café at Five Avenue shops closed in December last year and the liquor licence was supposed to be amended to reflect the new location.

Delays in the process resulted in the new venue opening without a licence.

The café had to cancel two shows for Hope Masike and Simuka comedy this week due to the dilemma.

Book Café events manager Tomas Brickhill said their licence for the old venue can only be used at an outdoor event which attracts a daily fee of $350.

“We have had to cancel smaller shows that we had scheduled for this week as we could not take the risk of making loses,” said Brickhill.

He said the licence was supposed to be regularised by last week, but that failed because of some sticking issues in the process and for now they can only hold big events that can fetch at least $1 000 in gross sales.

“Anything less than $1 000 is a straight loss so we had to do it the hard way for the mean time.

“We are expecting the issue to be regularised by Thursday (today) so that we get back to business as usual.”

Brickhill said they were now working towards a new structure of shows to cater for the new capacity.
“The new place is bigger, so we are targeting a wider audience and the only way we can do that is by having more artists.

“Sulumani Chimbetu will be playing for the first time on Thursday (tonight) and Mic Inity is getting back his Wednesday slots.”

However, secretary for the Liquor Licensing Board, Ramiouf Chagonda, said the Book Café team misrepresented information resulting in the delays.
He said the Book Café had applied for a temporary retail licence which cost them more.

“They were supposed to apply for a removal of licence which takes six months and costs $350, but instead they said they wanted a transfer which gives the impression that the original venue was still up and running,” said Chagonda.

“Under the current scenario they had to pay $350 per event day of which they are allowed only six events per year and they have already done four.”
The Book Café team is however adamant they followed the proper procedures.

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