Darlinghurst bar Black Bottle has been asked to remove a sand pit from its back garden after noise complaints from a nearby resident. The sand pit was installed over summer so customers could play a mini version of pétanque, a boules-like game that originated in the Provence region of France and that involves metal balls.
Late last week, the bar – which is wedged between Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street, and moments from busy William Street, Kings Cross and Darlinghurst fire station – received a call from the City of Sydney inquiring about the bar’s game and telling it to “cease immediately or else”, Black Bottle’s owner Lucas Cristofle tells Broadsheet.
“[A] resident complained about the noise of the metal balls clanging and [the council] asked us if we had a permit for the game,” says Cristofle. “Not even trying to reason with City of Sydney, I proceeded to remove the sand pit and posted on our Facebook how sad it was to see such a city shutting down any form of fun.”
The City of Sydney has corroborated Critofle’s claim.
“On April 19, the City of Sydney received noise complaints relating to the Black Bottle Cafe in Darlinghurst using the rear car park of the property as a pétanque court,” a City of Sydney spokesperson told Broadsheet.
“We are investigating the issue at the Black Bottle Cafe and aim to achieve a solution that satisfies all parties. We always strive to balance the needs of residents, businesses and visitors to our city.”
Black Bottle’s pétanque problem is the latest in a series of noise-related issues faced by Sydney businesses large and small. The Opera House was fined $15,000 after a Florence and the Machine concert in 2017, and Rushcutters Bay restaurant Bar M had its application to trade until midnight rejected recently due to noise complaints from local residents. It also comes after Black Bottle’s sister bar, PG’s in Newtown, was shut down due to what Cristofle says was pressure from the police and the “climate around licensing”.
In response to the complaint against Black Bottle, a local residents’ Facebook group has organised a protest pétanque party tonight, May 7. The game will be played with tennis balls to avoid noise complaints and glasses of rosé will be going for $5.
“We wanted to spread the word, tell people what is actually happening to the small businesses, backbone of this city and society when regulations are not here to help and protect but to repress and destroy,” says Cristofle.
He says the business has decided to keep the pétanque going, thanks to the support shown by residents, locals and the press.
“We will let them [the council] come get it,” says Cristofle.
The protest pétanque will be played from 5.30pm to 7.15pm tonight, May 7 at Black Bottle, Darlinghurst.