COMMENT: Hootananny license restrictions are devastating

This afternoon the Brixton Blog received an email from one of the owners of Hootananny pub, Sophia Yates, who fears a new restriction on their license could mean the end of a Brixton institution. Here’s the message in full:

I’ve just read the piece on the Brixton Blog – thank you very much for the support! We would like to offer a few corrections as we do not want to anger the council in the upcoming weeks while we try for a variation in our license. Our final entrance policy has always been 2am, but last week Wednesday we were informed by the Lambeth Police Licensing Team that we were operating outside of our license and that we must stop immediately or face penalty. As such, this is not a ‘revision’ to our license.

Our license is leftover from the days of the Hobgoblin and this restriction to last admission does not work for the successful late-night live music venue that we have since created. We were under the false impression that we could extend our entrance policy until 2am  because of a letter that we received from the Police and up until last week neither the Council nor the Police had ever had a problem with this. This restriction is devastating news as without the support from our community and beloved customers it could effectively mean the end of our award-winning business. Until we are able to change our license, we are worried that we won’t be able to keep afloat and the more people we can get in through our doors before 11pm the better!

We can’t imagine Brixton without Hootananny and are especially worried for all our staff and the amazing bands that we employ. We do not think it is possible for Hootananny to operate with this restricted admission times.

We turned away over 700 people this weekend, obviously that was traumatic. We lost half our trade which plunged us into loss, of course our weekly overheads as you can imagine are very high, so we are being forced into bringing the entrance charge of £3 charge forward to 9pm just to survive financially and we hope that our customers will be supportive of this change.

It will take 2 months to go for a license review to change our license. We understand that we are a bustling, lively pub/music venue and have always worked closely with our neighbours to make sure we are causing as little disturbance as possible. Due the to nature of our business – the fact that we are a tied-inn with high rent to pay every month – we do not think it would be possible for the venue to survive in any other way than it does now. Closing Hootananny would be our worst nightmare and we do not think it would benefit the surrounding neighbourhood, businesses and Brixton at all.

Yours sincerely
Sophia Yates
Hootananny Brixton co-owner



  1. Sophia – As a regular of 15 years at the pub, I sympathise with the licence problems. However, if you actually ran the place as a proper pub I’m sure you wouldn’t have so many financial problems. The state of the pub has driven away hundreds of regulars in the past few years. Clean up the toilets, keep the drinks properly and offer a better selection (real ale, cider etc) and you’d have a much better afternoon/early evening trade and wouldn’t need to rely so much on packing people in late at night to drink overpriced lager out of plastic glasses.

    I did not know the pub was tied – that’s bad. All I can say is ‘good luck’…..

Comments are closed.