On Saturday night, 10 William St was visited by police concerned about two issues: a sign in the window reading "free wine" and the fact that the venue's wine list, which is written on a chalkboard by the door, could be promoting excessive drinking and anti-social behaviour.
One of 10 Williams St's' owners, Giovanni Paradiso, took to Instagram to vent his frustration with the incident, and the lockout laws' impact on Sydney's nightlife. Broadsheet wrote about the incident on Sunday morning. In response to our queries, police did not address the visit to 10 William specifically, instead detailing its operation "across Sydney City, Kings Cross, Surry Hills and Newtown Local Area Commands."
The story has since been picked up by media around the country, and late this morning, NSW Police released a second statement, directly explaining its actions at 10 William.
"At 11pm on Saturday 6 February 2016 police were called to assist a heavily intoxicated woman in the gutter outside a licensed premises at 10 William Street, Paddington. Police assisted the woman into a taxi.
Police noticed the licensed premises had a sign saying “free wine”. Police noted the premises was operating on a Primary Service Authorisation (PSA) as a 'restaurant'. This means the premises is licensed to operate primarily as a restaurant, and not a bar, and may only serve alcohol with a meal in a dining area.
Observations led police to believe the premises was operating as a bar, not a restaurant. A large number of patrons were consuming wine. A large wine list on the wall made no reference to food service. No tables had menus on them. A bar area with a large amount of wine and spirits was observed. The kitchen was closed.
Police informed the licensee that the premises appeared to be operating as a bar, not a restaurant. Police informed the licensee that a ‘small bar’ liquor license may be more suitable for his business, instead of a 'restaurant' license."
An owner of 10 William told Broadsheet that the wine list is on the wall for ease of use, as wines change often, and food menus are given out when diners sit down to eat. By 11pm, most restaurants have closed their kitchens, and at that time of night many venues could appear more like a bar than a restaurant, as plates are cleared and guests finish their wine. Given this, as Keep Sydney Open Tyson Koh told The Sydney Morning Herald today, this incident was an example "of the kind of overbearing policing that venues have been faced with for a number of years now.
"Venues are more concerned with trying to not accrue fines rather than run their venues in the best possible way."