Masterchef finalist and Hoxton restaurateur Adam Handling denies The Frog could become a ‘speakeasy’

PUBLISHED: 10:51 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:11 04 February 2020

The Frog in Hoxton Square. Picture: Google Street View

The Frog in Hoxton Square. Picture: Google Street View

Google Street View

Masterchef finalist turned professional chef, Adam Handling, has denied plans to operate a “speakeasy” in a letter sent out to one of his neighbours.

He also said he had never hosted any stag parties at his Hoxton Square restaurant, The Frog, in response to an objection to his licensing application with Hackney Council.

The anonymous neighbour, who lives in Charlotte Road nearby, "strongly objected" to Handling's bid to serve alcohol in the venue's basement without having to sell any food with it - which was a condition of his licence.

But Hackney Council's licensing sub-committee has now removed it as long as he installs and maintains a CCTV system, keeps an incident log and ensures anyone buying alcohol who looks under 25 is at least 18-years-old.

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In his letter Handling explained that demand for dining in the basement area had been "much lower than anticipated".

"As a result, we made the application to help safeguard the ongoing viability of our business in Hoxton Square," he said.

"I confirm that we have never hosted stag parties at the restaurant. We are also not planning to operate a speakeasy pub."

A Prohibition-era speakeasy was a secret club where illegal alcohol was sold during the booze-ban days between 1920 to 1933 in the USA.

"Our application does not seek to amend the existing requirement for the sale of alcohol to be to persons dining on the premises on the ground floor," said Mr Handling.

"In respect of the basement, we hope to continue serving alcohol to customers dining in the basement, as well as seated customers by waiter service who are not necessarily dining, or to persons attending a pre-booked private function, which, for the avoidance of any doubt, will not include stag groups."

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