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Holloway Road sports bar boss: ‘Food rule is killing our trade’

1,500 regulars sign petition in support of application to turn grill into a pub

07 June, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Alfie Andrews, who is sound-proofing the pub, with landlord Mick Doherty

MORE than 1,500 punters have signed a petition aimed at saving a beloved sports bar as nearby residents have objected to a change in licence.

Diehard Gooner Mick Doherty, who owns the Islington Sports Bar and Grill in Holloway Road, has had to close his venue to carry out sound-proofing work.

He hopes the upgrade will satisfy council requirements aimed at switching from a restaurant licence – which means customers have to buy food if they want to order alcoholic drinks – to permission to operate as a pub.

Mr Doherty says the food rule has been “killing” his trade.

His application has so far triggered four objections from people living nearby, and fans of the bar are now going into battle.

Nick Christophorou, who started the petition urging the council to accept the licence application, said: “There have been loads of pubs that have closed on Holloway Road over the past decade. This was becoming a proper community pub that is investing in the area. They sponsor a football club and a boxing club.”

Nick Christophorou and ex-Arsenal ace Kevin Campbell

Mr Christophorou, who runs the Nicholas Crossman barbers shop in Archway, added: “I’d say it is the best thing we have had in Holloway Road for a long time. I don’t want it to close and all the people I know who come to the barber shop say the same thing.”

The petition lists a string of pubs that have closed down in the area over the past decade including The Litten Tree, The Nag’s Head and The George, where Mr Doherty used to go to before Arsenal games.

He said: “We set the place up after The George closed. A bunch of us used to go there for the Arsenal games. Then when it was closed, to be honest with you, we felt homeless.

“The support we’re getting in the petition is great. It shows there’s an appetite in the area for this kind of pub.

“But the restaurant licence has been killing us. I don’t think we’ve been given a fair crack at the whip.”

They have had to use temporary events licences for Arsenal match days since they opened in October.

Arsenal legends Nigel Winterburn and Kevin Campbell made appearances at the bar earlier in the year.

The sports bar’s application is due in front of the council at the beginning of next month when licensing chiefs will consider the objections to the application.

One woman said that she finds it “threatening” and that she has seen “loud groups of drunk men” spilling out of the bar on match days.

Other objectors made complaints about witnessing fights in the street outside the bar.

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