Owners of the former Salt House pub ‘could walk away’ as objections delay opening

Artists impressions of how Rawsha in Abbey Road will look after work is completed. Picture: The Livi

Artists impressions of how Rawsha in Abbey Road will look after work is completed. Picture: The Living Room - Credit: Archant

The owners of the former Salt House pub in St John’s Wood could walk away from it as a slew of objections from neighbours has delayed the new venue reopening.

Save The Salt House Picture: Rosie Holtom

Save The Salt House Picture: Rosie Holtom - Credit: Archant

The revelation from Rawsha's project manager comes as he said an online job advert posted for "Shisha waiting staff" was an administrative error.

Ali Sayed said: "They are feeling fed-up. They feel they are the wrong skin colour with the wrong name in the wrong area. The complaints are time consuming and false, it's been a tug-of-war between them and residents."

Mr Sayed said the mistake was made by a member of the owners' staff, as the men behind the venture in Abbey Road own a series of shisha restaurants elsewhere in London. In an interview in May, he confirmed the people behind the project include Mohsen Jhalehdoust, who runs Syon Lounge in Brenford, and business partner Ali Salman.

He said neighbours were making spurious comments to the City of Westminster Council which were holding up the opening of the venue. It aims to offer "pan-Asian" cuisine. Mr Sayed has previously said £1.5million has been spent on the refurbishment.

He said: "We have a good giggle. We are accused of letting out rooms upstairs to AirBnB, when they're not even furnished. We get a complaint if we fart in the wrong direction. Neighbours don't want a pub there. They don't deserve a pub there.

"They need to let it open. They need to give it a chance and decide for themselves whether they like it or not. If they don't, then start a petition to close it. But give it a chance."

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Mr Sayed reaffirmed the venue would be a restaurant and there was no plans for shisha in his designs.

A neighbour in Belgrave Gardens urged the owners to be more open with neighbours, and work with them to get it open. He said: "We have valid reasons for being concerned, and we will be until we see it's a different concept.

"What they can do is to relax and engage a little bit more and explain the concept with neighbours nearby. A restaurant would be great, but also somewhere you can go and have a drink without having to buy food. Somewhere local people will go, and won't become a big 'destination' as it will change the dynamics nearby."

Work is still ongoing at the restaurant. Mr Sayed said he hopes to open it by Christmas.