Popular Leith restaurant Sabzi denied extended opening hours calls on council to 'give a small business a break'

Frustrated family owners of a popular Leith restaurant that have been refused extended opening hours have called on the council to ‘give a small business a break’.
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Owners of Sabzi, meaning hot dish, saw their emerging business boom in the last year after they turned a Punjabi weekend pop-up into a permanent restaurant dishing up home-cooked spicy grub.

The vibrant Ferry Road eatery run by the Singh family applied to extend its hours from 8pm to 11pm but the council’s planning committee denied the variation to its planning conditions.

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Their application was officially refused on grounds of ‘potential nuisance’ along with concerns about noise and smells affecting neighbouring residents.

Ryan, Paula and Stevie Singh of Sabzi in LeithRyan, Paula and Stevie Singh of Sabzi in Leith
Ryan, Paula and Stevie Singh of Sabzi in Leith

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Stevie, who runs Sabzi with his mum, dad and brothers, said the refusal is a major blow to the family and their hopes for future growth.

But the 38-year old plans to appeal the decision and has written to local councillors and MSPs to ask for their help.

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During a public consultation 33 objections were lodged while 428 supported the application in favour of longer opening hours.

Among concerns raised by residents were claims of illegal and dangerous parking and loading due to double yellow lines at a junction which is used as parking by takeaway customers.

Others said extending the opening hours would pave the way for increased commercial activity and claimed this would undermine the residential character of the Victoria Park Conservation Area.

The family was previously knocked back when they applied to extend the opening hours of their former cafe two years ago.

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Stevie, who was inspired to transform Coffee and Cream into Sabzi after a ‘eureka moment’ during the pandemic, said: “This is so frustrating. We are trying our best to give the restaurant every chance to become a sustainable business.

"We have worked so hard to create something different that is valued by the local community. I’m really annoyed. It was refused on grounds of potential nuisance, noise and smells.

"There has never been an issue with nuisance or noise. As for smells it’s not a problem. We had an industrial extractor hood fan installed and it was checked by the council.

"It’s a load of rubbish. We have survived the pandemic after thinking we might have to close. We had queues out the door on our opening week. We have kept growing and have many happy repeat customers.

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"All we have done is to try and enhance our business and the local community. We work hard and deserve to be able to continue to be an asset to the neighbourhood. It’s so unfair.”

He added that they will appeal and request a 10pm opening.

“If we got an extension to 10pm we’d still be closing earlier than the local pubs, chip shop and Chinese takeaways. It feels like the council are raining on our parade without good reason. I hope they will give a small, family business a break.”

The council was contacted for comment.

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