Kebab boss ordered to close up shop

Published: 27 Apr 2012 17:30

A TAKE-AWAY boss is shutting up his popular kebab shop tonight after a court rejected his pleas not to temporarily suspend his licence - although magistrates did reduce the suspension from two months to four weeks.

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Zorbas Snacks Mr Cheezzy Chips, in Station Road will be closing at 11pm - and owner Peter Joannou also lost an appeal to move his 3am curfew back to 4am, to enable him to target revellers leaving town centre nightclubs.

The eccentric 67-year-old appeared at Reading Magistrates' Court for a two-day hearing which ended today, to appeal against decisions by licensing councillors in October after police reported 19 incidents - including actual bodily harm, affray and domestic violence - at the shop since its licence was reviewed in June 2010, when he was ordered to close an hour earlier at 3am.

Willan Cyrus, prosecuting for Reading Borough Council, said the shop had also breached its conditions by serving customers after its 3am curfew, which Mr Joannou, popularly known as Pops, admitted but said happened when he was not there.

Mr Cyrus explained how a staff member bought a stolen television while at work at Zorbas and another had attacked two customers with a "chef's steel" in a brawl that spilled into the street. He added: "The vast majority of all customers are under the influence of alcohol and form queues outside the premises, which leads to a number of public disorders and fights."

But Mr Joannou, who after a number of outbursts was repeatedly asked by chairman of the magistrates, Michael Wall, to focus his "enthusiasm" on the questions, said: "The police treated me like a drug dealer, I only sell burgers and kebabs!

"There are fights everywhere in the country, not just Reading, but I've got a good reputation and if there's a fight, I hug them (customers), not punch them."

Tim Child, defending, stressed that on the busiest nights of the week Zorbas has door staff who keep a log of any problems, and that there had been no issues at the shop since councillors decided to suspend Mr Joannou's licence in October.

But Mr Cyrus told the court this was because Mr Joannou was on his "best behaviour" in view of the pending appeals.

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