The forced closure of an South Dunedin bar is an attack on its patrons, the publican says.

Following a hearing last month the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (Arla) has cancelled the Heffs Hotel's on-licence and publican Stephen Clark's managers licence.

Police alleged patrons were intoxicated and were argumentative and abusive when they visited the bar in March after an anonymous tip-off.

Last year the bar was forced to close for a week and Clark and duty manager at the time Jessie Matheson were banned from selling alcohol for six and eight weeks respectively.


There was a solemn mood in the bar when the Otago Daily Times visited yesterday, with many patrons saying they were devastated by the decision.

One regular known as Grub said he had been drinking on and off at the bar for 50 years and the closure was like breaking up a family.

"We all know each other on a first-name basis and we're all just decent people who enjoy each others' company."

Another regular, Warren McCallion, said news of the closure came as a shock and it was a sad day for South Dunedin.

"It's a pub for working people and people without a lot of money. Steve has always tried to keep his prices low and made sure people had a place to come."

Many of the regulars were not "big drinkers" but instead enjoyed the social events at the bar, such as karaoke on a Friday night, McCallion said.

Hotel owner Dung Tran said he hoped to find a new tenant so the bar could be reopened but there was no guarantee it would.

Clark said while the decision was directed at him and his mistakes it was the regulars, staff and wider community who would be most affected.

Because the eight people who lived upstairs needed time to find new accommodation, the bar was allowed to stay open until the end of the month, he said.

"They're not punishing me, they punishing all the regulars, they're punishing the people who are living upstairs - where are they going to go now?"

But police alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said Clark had ample warning to rectify the issues after previous suspensions in 2012 and 2017.

Holding a licence to sell alcohol was a privilege and the decision was not a reflection of the industry in Dunedin but rather a single operator who did not manage his premises satisfactorily, Paulin said.