Edinburgh pub operators slam pop-ups and Spiegeltent as Board grants 240 occasional licences
Edinburgh pub operators estimate that this year’s Edinburgh Festival has been the worst on record due to the Edinburgh City Licensing Board’s decision to award an excessive number of licences for ‘pop-up’ bars, some of which have been for huge venues. 240 occasional licences in total were issued which covered all or part of the period during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh International Festival.
Operators have already met to discuss the festival fiasco which also saw George Street’s trade decimated because of the Spiegeltent.
Said one operator, “All the licensing rules seem to go out the door when it comes to the Festival. There is a moratorium on licences for 11 months of the year and come the festival, it is a free for all!”
The DRAM spoke to half a dozen of George Street’s key operators, and restaurateurs, all of them saying that they had been adversely affected by the Spiegeltent. To add insult to injury the operators who have signed up to Essential Edinburgh also subsidised the Spiegeltent with Essential Edinburgh putting in the region of £25K towards the facility.
Explains Essential Edinburgh Chief Executive, Andy Neal, “We had agreed to create a festival hub on George Street, following the feeling that George Street missed out the previous year. We wanted to do something to bring people back and we estimated that if we attracted between 4,000 and 7,000 extra people it would have been enough footfall for everyone to have benefitted. Unfortunately due to various reasons, including the Olympic effect, which saw tourists stay away, and others stay at home, some venues on George Street were adversely affected by the Speigeltent as their customers liked the novelty of the Spiegeltent.”
He continued, “Ideally next year the whole of George Street could be a festival hub. We have already discussed this. Obviously we are going to take what we have learned this year, and hopefully get it working for everyone next year. Our sole aim is to support businesses, and we are fully funded by them.”
He added, “It was also not fair that festival venues were able to keep tables and chairs outside until midnight, whereas bars and restaurants still had to bring their in at 10pm. Hopefully next year that courtesy will be extended to everyone.”
Pop-up bars included the Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar in the Signet Library, the Havana Club Mojito Embassy at George Square Gardens, Innis & Gunn at 32 Potterrow, Bar Raconteur at Restaurant Mark Greenaway and many more.