A controversial US restaurant chain that was hoping to bring its offering to the North East was dealt a blow yesterday when council chiefs blocked its application for a restaurant in Newcastle.
Hooters, a sports bar and grill that is famously staffed by scantily-clad waitresses, had its request turned down after fears over public safety. Both police and residents were among those opposing the application.
The US chain had intended to open a restaurant on Waterloo Street, which would have been only its second site in the UK. The other is in Nottingham. Globally, however, it operates 430 venues in 28 countries.
But The Chronicle reported that Newcastle City Council’s planning committee turned down the application due to fears over crime and disorder, public nuisance and public safety.
Sergeant Michael Heaney, who is part of Newcastle’s Central Neighbourhood Policing team, was quoted as saying that had the application have been accepted, it would have undermined the efforts being made to reduce crime and disorder in the city.
He said: “This place would take us backwards instead of forwards in policing the area. I have a responsibility in reducing and preventing crime and disorder and looking after the community’s needs.
“My perspective is lots of premises means lots of people, many who have consumed alcohol. This generates flash points, generally takeaways, taxi ranks and at times the premises themselves.”
But Hooters argued they are a restaurant and not a bar, citing their ‘children eat free on Sundays’ policy as evidence of their family appeal.
Keith Freeman, of Freeman Solicitors, who represented the chain at the meeting, said: “It’s a common misconception around the nature of Hooters, but this is a restaurant and not a bar. We are a family-orientated business.”
Hooters has six months to appeal the decision.