New Italian bistro planned in Newcastle city centre – but neighbours fear ‘rowdy’ customers

Is Newcastle set to have a new Italian restaurant to add to the city centre foodie scene?

A new Italian restaurant could be coming to Newcastle, if it wins the final sign-off from councillors.

Liosi’s, which has a popular riverside Sicilian cafe at the Newcastle Business Park in the West End, is planning to open a new premises on the edge of the city centre.

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The proposals would see the creation of a new bistro at Saville Place, a row of businesses on Durant Road.

However, the idea has been met with opposition from neighbours, who are worried about “rowdy” customers drinking outside the restaurant in the evening.

Thomas Hornek, of the Newcastle Sports Injury Clinic next door, told a Newcastle City Council licensing hearing on Tuesday that noise from Liosi’s planned 20-seat outdoor space would bother clients having treatment and “disturb the quality of our services”.

Melanie Duncanson, owner of Beauty and the Spa, added that she was worried about the prospect of the outdoor space effectively turning into a bar during the summer months.

She told councillors that “rowdy” chatting and laughter, the smell of smoke, and noise from delivery motorbikes collecting takeaway orders would be particularly off-putting for spa treatment clients who suffer with stress and anxiety.

Ms Duncanson also raised concerns that the restaurant’s bins could worsen a rat infestation at the back of the building.

Solicitor Matt Foster, representing applicant Sebastian Liosi, told the licensing sub-committee that, while customers will be allowed to order glasses of wine or beer without a meal, the site would predominantly be a cafe and bistro and “will not be a bar”.

Liosi’s new venture would open at 7am for a coffee and breakfast trade and close at 11pm.

Mr Foster added that his client, who also imports Italian food and drink and previously worked at Spago and Pizza Express in Jesmond, was an experienced operator in Newcastle and had not experienced problems at his other premises.

He argued that pavement cafes were being “encouraged across the city centre” by the council and had become increasingly important during the Covid pandemic, saying: “I would agree that it has to be managed properly, that is also reflected in the council’s policy on the use of pavement cafe areas, and that is what we are doing.”

The development has already secured planning permission from the council and the local authority says it will issue a decision within five working days of Tuesday’s hearing on the venue’s alcohol sales licence.