Serafin Bueno believed the Auckland Super City's boast of being a "business-friendly, can-do council" when deciding to open a cafe in Mt Eden's dining and bar precinct - three blocks from Rugby World Cup 2011 venue Eden Park.

But last week, when he opened, the Spanish chef had to refuse customers away if they wanted a glass of wine with the tapas.

He had expected to have his on-licence by Thursday's opening. But the council passed on the licence bid to a higher authority in Wellington after a neighbour objected to the trading hours.

Mr Bueno was told it would be several months before his case was heard by the Liquor Licensing Authority.

"I can't really understand it," he said yesterday at his courtyard garden premises on the corner of Walters and Dominion Rds.

"We have a resource consent from the council to open as a licensed cafe until 10pm, seven days a week. But we have been referred to a judge in Wellington to get our liquor licence, because the council has agreed with the only objector."

The licence delay was hypocrisy by the council, said lawyer Bill Endean, who is spokesman for the Waitemata Trust which renovated the former derelict corner building.

"It's publicly espousing its vision for getting things done - and the benefits of RWC 2011 - when at grassroots level it is the same old bloated Soviet-style bureaucracy seemingly intent on being as difficult and obstructive as possible."

Councillor Cameron Brewer, who leads its business advisory panel, said the council was a licensing agency, and should be deciding an on-licence for a suburban cafe.

"Referring it to the Wellington-based authority for a decision should be the absolute last stop. Small licensed cafes cause us very few problems and in different villages around Auckland are the hub of the community. Let's encourage them - not choke them with red tape."

It was a setback for the Super City's promise that it would be a better place for business and that heavy-handed bureaucracy would come to an end.

The objection of Wendy Turner and Huon Watt says they have enjoyed their home of 18 years.

"We enjoy our proximity to Dominion Rd with all its local amenities. We do not want to live across the road from premises which has a liquor licence for 15 hours a day, every day."

The couple said they objected to another local business which served alcohol when there were so many bars and restaurants in a 100m radius from Bueno's.

It seemed Bueno's was too small to be economic and the cafe application was a cover for a bar.

Mr Bueno responded: "Another pub is not my idea. I am a chef not a bar operator.

"Our idea is to bring Spanish culture and flavour to Dominion Rd and with a nice ambience.

"I will not have people standing up or standing in the street. I want people to enjoy food and a nice drink."

Eden Valley Business Association chairman Chris Hammonds said it was unfair that one objector could stifle someone's business ambitions.

"They will lose revenue while all this is going on after doing a lot of work on that building."
Mr Hammonds recalled the building was once the landmark Stereo World shop.

A former owner had painted it bright blue with polka dots in retaliation for the city council taking down the shop's signs.