Patrons of the soon to re-open Imperial Hotel could be left footing the bill for over half a million dollars in legal fees, which have made cover charges a must.
Imperial owner Shadd Danesi said he is “extremely happy” with last week’s ruling in the Land and Environment Court, which will allow 442 patrons into the entertainment area Monday through Thursday, and 778 over the weekend.
The increased numbers have been permitted over a 12-month trial period, and do not include the number of people allowed into the general bar area.
Danesi confirmed that when the venue re-opens in November, there will be a cover charge. “There has to be, to pay for all of this and the renovations,” he told Sydney Star Observer. “It will run similarly to how it used to, the public bar will be free to go into, but if I’m providing DJs and entertainment, then that costs money, so I have to have a cover charge.
“It’s taken me five court cases and in excess of half a million dollars in legal fees to get to this stage. As a small business that’s an utter disgrace — no wonder nobody wants to open a small to medium-sized business in Sydney.
“I’d like to see councils acting in a more conciliatory way, where there are honest discussions. If a hotelier is legitimately doing the wrong thing then the evidence needs to be shown to the hotelier.
“Some [hoteliers] have invested millions of dollars. I’ve spoken to a lot of them about this, and we feel as though we are treated like criminals. We are legitimate businesses. If you have a rogue hotelier who is doing the wrong thing, I don’t think any normal hotelier would support that.”
A City of Sydney spokeswoman responded, “The City previously approved 442 patrons in all entertainment areas, in an attempt to limit the hotel’s impact on nearby residents. The City’s concerns were based on noise and anti-social behaviour.
“The limit handed down by the court does not apply to the number of patrons in the public bar or the gaming room as they are not deemed to be entertainment areas under planning laws, therefore the total patron number for the entire venue is up to 1500 people at any one time.” She said this number would have to be controlled.
The court has imposed a plan of management which demands staggered shutting times for the bars and a security presence to direct patrons to taxis and bus pick-up points.

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