‘Camden’s oldest restaurant’ has licence suspended following allegation of sexual assault

Elysee restaurant. Photograph: Fitzrovia News

A restaurant that has hosted Prince Philip, victory celebrations for the 1966 World Cup-winning England team, The Beatles and Mohammad Ali has had its licence suspended for two months after an allegation of a sexual assault there.

Police requested a review in the licence for the 86-year-old Elysee restaurant after the alleged sexual assault and claims of drug use in the Percy Street venue in September.

Elysee opened in 1936 as a French restaurant before becoming a leading Greek eatery “beloved of the British and Greek royal families” along with screen and sporting celebrities.

The restaurant, thought to be Camden’s oldest, has been shut for nearly a month.

Part of the licensing hearing was held in private at the request of the police, who said an investigation is underway.

It meant the public and the Charlotte Street Association which supported the review could not hear what the police and the restaurant’s lawyers had to say.

The restaurant had supplied letters of support from customers who said it is “very professionally managed”.

Clive Henderson from the Charlotte Street Association said residents were “very concerned” about the licence review because of “an alleged serious crime situation”.

He said it was extremely rare for a review of a licence in Fitzrovia and added “in fact I can’t remember. It is of great concern to residents and families.”

He said there had been a previous review in 2011 after residents complained about noise. This had been unsuccessful.

He said terminal hours are “exceptionally late” in Fitzrovia and asked for the hours to be cut back, which the licensing committee agreed to.

Amran Ali from the council’s health and safety team visited in September after a complaint about smoking in the roof garden.

He said the area is enclosed so cannot be used for smoking, and it also did not have planning permission.

During his visit he spotted shattered large glass panels on the floor of the roof garden and said that was a safety risk.

The restaurant’s barrister James Rankin said work had been done to make sure it is compliant.

According to its website the Elysee is “a venue second to none, this family-run establishment promises to continue entertaining and enchanting its guests for time to come whilst its discrete policies make it a retreat for those in the limelight”.

Supporters including the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots wrote in support of the venue.

President Andreas Papaevripides said: “It has simply been our place of joy.”

In his letter to Camden Council’s licensing committee, he said: “For the almost half a million strong Greek and Greek Cypriot Community the Elysee is simply their shrine of entertainment. Many generations, for almost a century, had unforgettable memories and enjoyed the original and traditional entertainment and culture with superb food and Greek music and dancing. “

Jason Charalambous, who is a solicitor-advocate, wrote that: ” As a frequent customer I believe that Elysee is very professionally managed, and I have not witnessed examples of antisocial behaviour or disturbance giving any rise for concern.”

After a lengthy licensing hearing, much of it behind closed doors, committee chair Gio Spinella said the licence will be suspended for six weeks from 4 October until the venue “has trained all staff on welfare, vulnerability and engagement as indicated by the police”.

The venue also has to train all staff on Ask Angela policies – where customers can get help if they ask for Angela.

Conditons also include zero tolerance to drugs.

Councillor Spinella said the committee opted not to revoke the licence but to give the venue a “final chance” to prove they can “provide a beneficial environment”.

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