We are receiving a number of enquiries regarding the decision to close the Belleisle and Troon Links clubhouses. We would like to make clear how we reached this decision.
Firstly, it was not a decision that we wished to take and was not one taken without seeking guidance from both our Licensing Standards Officer and Environmental Health colleagues.
Following the extension of COVID restrictions announced last week it was not immediately clear whether the golf club houses could remain open or not. There is no definition under licensing law as to what constitutes a café, restaurant or bar.
There are 3 types of license for the sale of alcohol on the premises. These are a premises license, club license (private members social club) and an occasional license (limited period for special events etc).
We spoke with our Licensing Standards officer on Thursday afternoon explained our menu, the main use of our premises and were advised that we would not be able to remain open based on the legal definition of the alcohol license.
Following the First Ministers further announcement on the Friday, we sought further clarification from our Environmental Health colleagues.
When deciding whether we were a Café or Bar or Restaurant we were asked to consider our responses to the following questions;
Do you have a bar counter? Our response YES
Do you normally operate to at least 11pm? (Pre-COVID) Our response NO
Do you accept customers only ordering alcohol? Our response YES
If the answer was yes to any of those questions then we would NOT be considered a Café.
Below is an extract of the FAQ section of the guidance issued by the Scottish Government and have placed in capitals the section where we feel we would not be able to open.
Opening/closing and alcohol
Q: If I am a pub or restaurant in the central belt not selling alcohol, can I chose to be a licensed café to operate between 06:00 and 18:00?
A: No, the regulations define what is a ‘café’ for clarity.
Q: What is the definition of a café (licensed or unlicensed)?
A: The regulations define a café as ‘“cafe” means an establishment whose primary business activity, in the ordinary course of its business, is the sale of non-alcoholic drinks, snacks or light meals, which may be consumed on the premises”.
Q: How do I know if I can define my business as a café?
A: You should consider the following key questions:
- DO YOU SERVE ALCOHOL ONLY TO CUSTOMERS WITHOUT FOOD?;
- Does your normal hours of operation extend to 20:00?;
- Do you have a range of menus (an evening menu)?
If any of these apply then you are not a café within the definition set out in the regulations.
Q: Do premises that have a license to sell alcohol for part of their business i.e. a store, café or restaurant, need to close their entire operation on the basis of having a license?
A: No, all licensed premises (except cafes) in the central belt must close for the temporary period. However, larger premises which have licensed operations on site, such as a store with a bar or restaurant, need only ensure those licensed operations are closed (except cafes with no alcohol sales) and do not need to close the other parts of the businesses.
We would often serve customers alcohol without food. Therefore our interpretation of the guidance was such that we would be required to close.
In an effort to meet the demand for food at our Golf Venues, we adapted our service within a matter of days to extend the opening of the Stables Café within Belleisle to 8am to 4pm, 7 days a week to accommodate golfers and were aware that the Tea Room across the road from Troon Links which does not hold a license, would be able to remain open and serve the golfers there.
We hope this provides some clarity on the situation and please be reassured that as soon as we are permitted to reopen, we will do so.