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Milk bar owner dubs critics the Horlicks gang

PUBLISHED: 15:26 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:55 07 September 2010

Katie Davies THE owner of controversial milkshake bar Tinseltown has hit back at critics for the first time – branding them old farts who think they can control Hampstead . Managing director Suhail Hasan has been rowing with residents for years over cla

Katie Davies

THE owner of controversial milkshake bar Tinseltown has hit back at critics for the first time - branding them "old farts who think they can control Hampstead".

Managing director Suhail Hasan has been rowing with residents for years over claims that his diner for teenagers has led to littering, noise, illegal parking and crime around Heath Street.

But he says complaining residents are just over the hill and need to lighten up when it comes to his 2am to 3am closing time.

"We moved here in 2005 and before then it was Calamity Jane's," he said. "It was a bar with a very big reputation in Hampstead for late-night drinking.

"We moved in with no alcohol, no underage drinking - just milkshakes and food and everyone is up in arms.

"This is London. It is not the Cotswolds, it is not Suffolk.

"We are all for dialogue and working in the right way but the problem is you've got a few old farts who think they can control Hampstead.

"It may be a certain generation doesn't understand. They want their Horlicks and to be in bed by 9pm. But for me, London is a vibrant city and you have to cater for all tastes and needs.

"If you want total tranquillity and peace and quiet, move to the countryside - there is an abundance of it.

"What's the national sport of Hampstead? Complaining. They are against us because we are offering a service that doesn't include them. Leave us alone - we are selling milkshakes to your kids."

Nearby residents are raising money to buy CCTV to film Tinseltown customers to prove problems to the authorities.

But Mr Hasan is opposed to any attempt to film his customers as an "invasion of privacy".

He says that most of the issues raised were unrelated to Tinseltown or weren't its responsibility to solve.

"I have staff on three litter picks in the surrounding area every day," he added.

"How much is Starbucks doing? How much is McDonald's doing? How much does the pancake stall do? I don't mind if I am under the same scrutiny as everyone else but unfortunately this is a witch hunt. If customers park irresponsibly there is a very simple solution - ticket them.

"The latest one is trying to associate crime with Tinseltown. People target nice areas because that's what low level crime does. It's not like we've got a magnet and we're bringing them in."

Mr Hasan has employed a security guard in reaction to complaints and put up posters asking customers to leave quietly.

Staff have also started giving out lollies in a bid to keep departing customers quiet.

Mr Hasan says passers-by have egged customers queuing for the restaurant and he and his staff have been racially insulted.

But after Hampstead councillor Kirsty Roberts backed residents, Mr Hasan says he will only deal with someone neutral.

He added: "When is the next election? I may stand for the council. I would support local businesses. I think businesses like us should be applauded, not knocked.

"What's the alternative? Young people go out, get cheap alcohol and get drunk on the Heath. We are actually doing a social service.

"We have parents making bookings who will die to get their kids in here. At the end of the day, we are not going away. I've proved that by lasting this long."

o To have your say on Tinseltown, email editorial@ hamhigh.co.uk.


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