Happier times for Cara and Milan Nikolic, award-winning Helensburgh restaurateurs.
By Democrat reporter
A popular Helensburgh bar has closed after having its late licence restricted – ahead of an appeal.
The Logie Baird’s owners took the decision after Argyll and Bute’s licensing board cut back the pub’s weekend late licence to 1am and imposed a strict 11pm curfew on Friday and Saturday nights.
Operators Cara and Milan Nikolic warned, after the limits on the business were imposed in April, that the board’s decision threatened the viability of the business.
The licensing board took the action after Police Scotland changed the status of the premises from “monitored” to “problematic” in November following 98 incidents over two years.
The premises employed 22 full-time and part-time staff, including door stewards and DJs.
Both sanctions were imposed for a period of six months, after which, the board said, it would reconsider the matter.
Following a request from Mr and Mrs Nikolic’s lawyer, the cut in the Logie Baird’s hours will now be reviewed by the licensing board at a meeting in Lochgilphead on Tuesday, June 25 – two months since the initial decision.
Mrs Nikolic, whose family have been in the hospitality business in Helensburgh for the past century or more, said: “We are devastated. The last thing we wanted to do was close. Our staff are absolutely gutted. The business became unviable in just two weeks after the decision.
“Our turnover halved and the business quite simply was not taking enough to make ends meet.
“We have kept going as long as we can, propping it up financially from our other businesses, but that is dangerous to them and all our staff’s future, and this is not sustainable any longer.
“We had nine customers in the pub after 11pm this Saturday, and door stewards to pay to stop people getting in for the next two hours. There was more staff than customers. There is just no point being open.”
The couple, from Kilcreggan, launched a petition to restore the pub’s late weekend hours which was signed by 564 people.
Two weeks after the decision, an announcement was posted on the Logie Baird’s Facebook page, telling customers that it would be now closing completely at 11pm on Friday nights due to lack of customers.
Mrs Nikolic said: ”Since finding out we had gone from monitored to being sent for a review, we made significant operational changes, working with Police Scotland and increased stewarding, and had a handful of incidents over five months.
“We are asking them to now remove these restrictions as I’m sure it was not the board’s intention to close the premises.
“I think we demonstrated how the changes we had made since November have worked, and fully accept responsibility and being reprimanded for the mistakes of the past.
“Unfortunately I don’t think trouble can ever be completely eradicated. I know issues have moved to a smaller venue in town who are not as used to coping with it as us, which is putting them under serious pressure.”
Mr and Mrs Nikolic bought the Logie Baird in February 2017, starting the latest chapter in the story of a building whose history dates back to 1913, when it opened as the La Scala cinema.
Mrs Nikolic added: “We kept open as long as we could to keep good people in jobs but we can’t sustain the losses any longer.
“People affected told us they wanted to write letters of support to the board for the restrictions to be lifted and I really hope they do.
“This is a decisive meeting for our staff, the town and the future of this iconic C-listed building.
“We very much hope this can be resolved next Tuesday and we can reopen Logie’s as soon as possible.”
Letters can be emailed to licensing assistant Kelly-Anne Coffield at KellyAnne.Coffield@argyll-bute.gov.uk