Coffee shop chain granted alcohol licence

Three Harris + Hoole coffee shops, part-owned by supermarket giant Tesco, have been granted permission to sell alcohol.

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The chain’s north Finchley store

The UK-based chain has been given a license to sell alcohol at its stores in Sunbury, Walton and North Finchley, according to the chain’s CEO who confirmed the move in a report with The Evening Standard.

Harris + Hoole is the UK’s first major coffee shop chain to branch into the drinks industry, with plans to open late and put on community events.

Nick Tolley, chief executive of Harris and Hoole, told the The Standard: “The motivation came from our customers who were saying it’s a pity you are closing at six o’clock at night, this would be a lovely place to have a glass of wine.

“We also want to have lots of community events in the shops and would keep the shops open late to do that.

“Having a coffee at seven or eight in the evening is the last thing people want to do, but having a glass of wine is.”

The coffee shop chain, in which Tesco has a 49% stake, withdrew similar plans at a store in Richmond last year, but withdrew them following upset by residents with police in the borough arguing that the sale of alcohol at the coffee shop could attract street drinkers.

But Mr Tolley ultimately decided against pursuing the licence.

He told The Standard: “It was ridiculous. I couldn’t help but laugh at the suggestion we were going to be selling alcohol from 11am to local drunks who were then going to cause problems.

“I didn’t think what we were doing was that unusual or radical. The intention was never to turn into a Wetherspoons.

“What we wanted to do was going to be selling one or two fairly expensive quality craft beers and maybe one or two varieties of wine.”

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