Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pub told: Get scarier or lose your licence


Pub told: Get scarier or lose your licence

JIM MCBETH:THE SCOTSMAN Wed 12 Oct 2005

A CITY pub with a horror movie theme faces losing its late-night drinks licence because Dr Frankenstein's creature does not scare the patrons quite as often as he should.

Licensing board chiefs in Glasgow want more emphasis on monsters and less on drinking, or they will force Frankenstein's in the city centre to keep normal pub hours.

One city councillor, who visited the venue to assess whether it was fulfilling the entertainment licence that allows it to open until 3am, quipped that the scariest creatures he saw were some of the customers.

The licensing board has given Frankenstein's three months to increase the ghoul and goblin count, and they have demanded more outings for the pub's central feature, a giant animatronic Dr Frankenstein's monster.

The board said the creature being trotted out once every "business" day was not enough.

Owners of the pub, one of three such themed venues in Scotland run by the Edinburgh-based firm Saltire Taverns, had been ordered to appear before the board.

It followed visits by councillors, the most recent of which was in the last two weeks.

Venues other than nightclubs must prove they are laying on "substantial entertainment" to get a 3am licence and Frankenstein's is one of only a few bars allowed to open late.

Regulations stipulate that entertainment is paramount and drinking is secondary.

Gordon Macdiarmid, the board's convener, said: "Normally, you go to a pub with an ordinary licence and you drink. There may be a television, but it does not constitute entertainment.

"In the case of establishments with an entertainment licence, the purpose of going there is for entertainment, for example to dance at a disco or watch a show. Drinking becomes ancillary.

"We weren't happy that Frankenstein's creature coming out once every 24 hours constituted entertainment."

The board will reassess the situation in January before deciding whether or not the pub can keep its 3am licence.

In their defence, the pub's owners said staff enacted horror roles for customers, magicians performed acts and there were regular Rocky Horror Picture Show theme nights.

They said the animatronic monster "regularly appeared".

But Frank Docherty, one of the board members who visited the pub, said: "The majority of us didn't think customers saw nearly enough of the big fella."

Billy Lowe, the managing director of Saltire Taverns, said: "We've always had a lot of entertainment but much of it is spontaneous. I think the mistake we've been making is not having it as structured as it might be."

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