Shoreditch Grind licence plans delayed

A popular espresso bar and restaurant has been forced to prolong its wait for a late night music licence after a council hearing over the issue has been delayed.

Shoreditch Grind is looking to be able to play recorded music past 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights, when it is open until 1am. This requires an extended licence, for which an application was submitted in December.

Speaking to Islington Now, founder and chief executive David Abrahamovitch said: “It is a relatively minor application, we are not looking to open any later. Music is really important to us. I started the business with a friend who’s a DJ, we have a recording studio upstairs and we put all the music we play onto Spotify playlists. We are just looking to be able to play music after 11pm.”

The espresso bar has been open on the corner of Old Street Roundabout since 2011. It sells coffees and cocktails, along with breakfast and dinner.

Mr Abrahamovitch said the establishment is open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. “It’s only a couple of hours a week where it becomes a licensing issue,” he said, adding that “98% of the time it’s fine, but the other 2% we need the licence for. It’s as simple as that.”

“It’s not particularly contentious, so we never imagine it going to a hearing. We’ve engaged with the council and the police throughout the process in order to make sure we’re doing it properly”, Mr Abrahamovitch added.

The extended licence became an issue when nearby residents objected to the application, including those in Imperial Hall, a Grade II residential building which is directly next door to the bar.

One objector wrote: “I am vehemently against this and, for my health and ability to sleep, cannot idly allow this proposed extension to proceed unopposed […] The core issue is the music played there is incredibly disruptively loud.”

Another local resident added: “The café started as a coffee shop. It is a great coffee shop, it is heading towards being a nightclub situated by a residents [sic] building. I am sure this is not an aspiration of Islington.”

Defending his proposals, Mr Abrahamovitch said: “We’ve always had an amazing relationship with our neighbours, we’ve had support from Imperial Hall for the effort we’ve put into improving this scruffy corner of the Old Street Roundabout. I’ve written to them all trying to put their minds at rest, but I haven’t heard anything back yet.

“We spent thousands of pounds on independent acoustic testing to make sure we would be OK playing music later. We have to have the doors and windows shut so the noise doesn’t escape.”

One resident appeared to support this: “To date, I have only had problems with music from the Shoreditch Grind when their windows were open […] Providing the present level of noise, during the relevant hours, remains as at present, I have no objections to the request.”

The council hearing was supposed to happen on Tuesday, 21 March, but was delayed. Islington Council was contacted for comment, but has not replied as yet.

There are three Grinds in Islington: Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Exmouth Market, which opened in January.

Mr Abrahamovitch added that his company was “trying to normalise the licence”, rather than opening later. “We’re not seeking to change the world,” he concluded.