A LONDON restaurant which hosted a 30th birthday party for Rita Ora and celeb pals despite the Covid lockdown has avoided losing its licence.
Casa Cruz in Notting Hill, West London, faced being shut down after hosting the illicit bash on November 28 last year.
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But following a hearing of Kensington and Chelsea Council’s licensing sub-committee, the venue was handed a six-week suspension.
Metropolitan Police had urged the restaurant to be stripped of its licence and blasted the “selfish” event.
A statement from the council said: “The committee recognised that 44 representations have been received from local residents.
“Many of the supporters urged the committee not to revoke the licence because they considered that the restaurant is a valuable community asset.
“Residents felt more secure with its presence and the doorman in the street, and some of the 39 people employed at the restaurant were local people.
“The committee did not receive any representations from residents supporting the revocation of the licence.”
The hearing heard the venue was offered a £5,000 bung to break Covid rules by representatives of the star.
Casa Cruz also had CCTV cameras turned off as guests arrived – amid the second virus lockdown.
Pictures that emerged at the time showed guests including model Cara
Delevigne and her sister Poppy carrying Rita Ora branded Tequila.
The hearing, which was held online due to covid restrictions, heard how the then manager of Casa Cruz, in West London, was called by Rita’s staff and offered £5,000 to open up for the party.
Charles Holland, who is representing the Met Police’s application, said at the hearing: ”Police were advised that a party was being held on November 28 at the venue, Casa Cruz.
”They were told large groups of people had arrived via the back door of the club, there was security and loud music was being played and this was all during the second national lockdown.
”At the time venues had to close and stop providing food and drink, people were told to stay at home and it was unlawful to gather in groups of two or more.
”What transpired was that the premises was hosting a party for a Ms Rita Ora, a well known celebrity.”
Slamming Rita and the venue, he said they had acted ”selfishly wanted to flout the lockdown for financial gain and selfish pleasure”.
The party was rumbled by police after a tip-off by neighbours, although officers were stopped from entering.
When police did gain entry the next day, it was found CCTV had been switched off and footage from the last 31 days had been deleted.
It later emerged restaurant manager Scottie Bhattarai had been offered £5,000 to host the event.
The hearing was told the money was never paid and Mr Bhattarai has since been sacked.
ary Grant, representing Casa Cruz, told the hearing Ora’s representatives had offered £5,000 to host the bash ‘at the last minute’ over fears a party at a private house was attracting photographers.
He said: “This was a spur of the moment decision.
“This was going to be a dining at home experience in [the home of] a very close associate of Ms Ora. My client was doing the catering for it.
“The paparazzi turned up outside the home where the party was going to take place.
“There was a panicked phone call in the afternoon from a close associate of Ms Ora…. asking ‘we can’t do it here, paparazzi are outside’ in desperation they asked ‘can we do it at Casa Cruz?’
“The foolishness is that [the restaurant manager] agreed. He agreed to have this drinks and nibbles for up to17 people in Casa Cruz when they were locked down.
“It was wholly wrong and it was a serious breach.”
Police were called just before midnight. Photos later emerged of Rita and pals leaving — as revealed by HOAR.
Mr Grant refused to say whether Mr Bhattarai is still employed at a sister restaurant to Casa Cruz, citing legal issues in a criminal investigation and employment case resulting from the party and the sacking.
Ora later apologised for “breaking the rules” and volunteered to pay a £10,000 fine.