Heidi O’Neill told a Shropshire Council licensing hearing that she simply wished her customers at the Rumbling Tummies Cafe and Bistro in Market Drayton to be able to enjoy a drink with a meals.
The hearing, called in response to objections from environmental health chiefs and six members of the public to the premises licence application, heard the main areas of concern were around noise and a potential increase in cooking odours.
The bistro is in a predominantly residential area on the outskirts of the town centre, with a flat above and residential properties either side.
Licensing agent Chris Nixon, representing the applicant, told the panel the business had operated under its current ownership for two years with no complaints, and police had confirmed there were no concerns regarding crime and disorder.
He stressed that the rear yard of the cafe was not to be covered by the licence and would therefore not become a “beer garden” as some objectors had feared.
Mr Nixon also said that following discussions with environmental health officers, the opening times being proposed were now 9am to 10pm Monday to Thursday, extending to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The original application had requested permission to stay open until midnight seven days a week.
The applicant had proposed conditions to ensure that alcohol could only be served with a meal, and immediately before and after. There would however be an exception to allow up six customers at any time to be served alcohol without a meal.
Environmental health officer Matthew Clark said this could see the business straying away from its intended use as an eatery towards becoming a drinking establishment.
But Mr Nixon argued six customers out of a maximum capacity of 25 was “not substantial”, and was akin to current customers stopping by for a hot drink.
Ms O’Neill added that it was not her intention to have “youngsters coming in getting hammered”.
Luke and Emma Phillpott, who live next to the bistro, spoke at the hearing against the application.
They said cooking odours already reached their garden and this would be worsened if an alcohol licence meant the bistro was open later and had more customers.
Ms O’Neill said she did not want to affect any neighbours, and said odour problems would be mitigated by a deep clean of the ventilation system and new filters which had been ordered. The menu is also set to be reviewed to reduce the amount of fried food.
Ms O’Neill said: “As a business, we have to evolve. Part of me getting the licence is to evolve and improve this business.
“It’s not to turn it into a pub or nightclub, it could never be that. It’s tiny, it sits 25 people.”
Public protection officer Robert Bowland said it was known from experience that alcohol consumption leads to an increase in noise. He said a shared chimney with an adjoining property was a particular concern for possible noise transmission, as well as people entering and leaving, and those stepping outside to smoke.
Mr Bowland said: “The business is in the wrong building and in the wrong location to become a licensed premises opening late into the evening.
“I welcome the change in the hours, that is a step forward, but it doesn’t fully satisfy or reduce the risk of there being a public noise nuisance.”
Neighbour Mr Phillpott said his family could already hear loud conversations through the dividing wall between their property and the bistro, and any increase in noise would have a “significant detrimental impact” on their lives.
Mr Nixon said if any problems did arise in future they could complain to environmental health.
The hearing panel, made up of councillors Keith Roberts, Les Winwood and Dave Tremellen, will issue a decision on whether to grant the licence within five days.