Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Elderly fight for their peace

Cafe's bid for longer drinking hours runs up against band of determined residents

Residents of Spring Grove Flats Marjorie Lowe and Robert Tait are against the licence extension. Photo / Richard Robinson
Residents of Spring Grove Flats Marjorie Lowe and Robert Tait are against the licence extension. Photo / Richard Robinson

A clash between old and new Auckland came to a head at a Liquor Licensing Authority hearing for a popular cafe wanting to extend its liquor serving hours.

The owner of Queenie's Lunchroom, a cafe-restaurant in upmarket city-fringe suburb Freeman's Bay, is facing strong opposition from nearby senior citizens to its plan to serve liquor up to 10pm four nights a week.

Queenie's has a liquor licence until 5pm most days and owner Allana Owen said at the hearing she wanted an extension to 10pm from Wednesday to Saturday.

Her public notification to extend it to 10pm Monday to Saturday drew seven objections with multiple signatures from neighbouring residents.

Objectors feared the extended liquor trading hours could lead to increased noise, parking problems and more people "pissing in the bush".

Ms Owen argued her target customers were mainly middle-aged and family diners who were unlikely to pose problems.

She said the restaurant aimed to be seen as "local, familiar and friendly" with an atmosphere that was "about community and comfort".

Her restaurant is on Spring St, which is zoned for mixed use, but is across the road from a Housing New Zealand complex bounded by Spring, Middle, Runnell and England Sts where about 45 elderly residents live.

Marjorie Lowe, 85, who has lived there since 1995, said she needed her "10 hours sleep at night".

"I don't want to be woken up by sounds that are out of the ordinary."

Ms Lowe said recent reports of crimes against the elderly was one of her "big worries" about the type of people the later licensing hours would attract to the area.

Donald Somerville, 70, who lives in the same block, said he was concerned that one toilet would not be adequate for the 44-seat restaurant to operate the longer hours.

"If people can't toilet there, then they would just cross over to our lawns to take a piss in the bush."

Runnell St unit occupant Robert Tait, 65, said a key factor in his objection was the "unique demographics" of the residential area opposite Queenie's.

"Many of these people are quite elderly, several in their 80s and 90s and many of them are frail and not in good health," Mr Tait said.

"It is only in the evenings that there is reasonable peace and quiet in the area and it would be unfair to take that away from those who want to enjoy this in their final years."

Alcohol licensing inspector Cherie Ann Veza said the basis of the objections lodged with the authority concerned the suitability of the applicant and increases in noise and traffic resulting from the extension of hours.

She said Queenie's was deemed to be "low risk" with regards to alcohol-related harm and the extended hours would be "in line with the other licensed premises in the area".

Judge John Hole said he would conduct a site visit and make a decision in about a month.

- NZ Herald

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