Edinburgh wine cafe closed for serving food 'too smart and too fancy for a cafe' wins court battle

An Edinburgh wine cafe ordered to close by a council for serving food it considered “too fancy for a cafe” has won a court order to remain open following the allegations.

One20 Wine Cafe in Dundas Street, which is also an off-licence and art gallery, was forced to close after City of Edinburgh Council alleged it was trading in breach of Covid-19 regulations - which they emphatically denied.

Owners Ronnie and Kyle Reid claimed the council’s main argument for closing the premise was that the food was too upmarket for the venue to be considered a cafe.

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Speaking to Edinburgh Evening News Ronnie said: “The arguments for us not being a cafe were crazy.

One20 Wine Cafe in Dundas Street, Edinburgh picture: JPI Media
One20 Wine Cafe in Dundas Street, Edinburgh picture: JPI Media

"The council’s main, final reason for forcing us to close was that some of our dishes were ‘too smart and too fancy’ for us to be considered a cafe.

"Nothing in the law dictates how smart you can or can’t have your food in a cafe.”

One20 was granted an interim suspension order by the Court of Session after an online hearing on Friday, 23 October and remains open this weekend.

"The restrictions are guidance,” Ronnie added, “and I was given legal advice that the council can’t force places to close based on guidance.”

Elaine Motion, of Balfour+Manson, the legal firm which represented One20 in court, said: “Our clients have all along stressed to the council that they have always complied with all Covid regulations, including the most recent ones dated 9 October, and will continue to do so.”

"We tried to engage the City Council to resolve this without having to revert to court but for whatever reason they chose not to. In truth, this is a David and Goliath story. Hopefully if there are any other cafes in a similar position they will engage positively with them. If not doubtless there will be more litigation.”

One20 has been selling alcohol from its food and wine shop on the same site, but not in the cafe - all in line with regulations.

At the time of opening, the cafe said it would sell continental wines, cheese, charcuterie and patisserie from renowned Italian pâtissier Luigi Biasetto and would be the only place in Scotland to sell the luxury Italian-roasted coffee brand, Caffe Galliano.

It reopened on the morning of Saturday 24 October business as usual (within Covid-19 rules).

A council spokeswoman said: “Legal proceedings are still ongoing with regard to this case and so it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on it. We’d like to point out though that our existing advice to businesses about what does and doesn’t constitute a café remains the same, and does not concern the style of food served.”

She pointed out the council said a premise is not considered a cafe under the recent regulations if it serves alcohol only without food to customers, when normal hours of operation extend to 8pm and if it offers a range of menus such as a lunch and evening menu.

On the Scottish Government website, the latest guidance says unlicensed premises may stay open between 6am and 6pm in the Central Belt.

The current meeting rules still stand at a maximum of six people from two households.

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