For Wollongong’s “Souva King” Frank Kaadan, getting some late-night revellers a bite to eat when they’ve had too much to drink is common sense.
But while he wants to extend his Kembla St eatery’s hours beyond 2am on Friday and Saturday nights, he said police and the city council had told him it couldn’t happen.
Mr Kaadan is one of several food business owners on the lower end of Crown St who believe they should be able to open later to take advantage of the late-night crowds, and who are pushing for change.
He’s up against a view by police and council that the inner city is safer without late-night eateries – a view that fights start when intoxicated people congregate around takeaway joints.
Police prefer revellers leave the city and go home when it’s past 2am rather than hanging around and risking trouble.
But Mr Kaadan, who previously operated on Brunswick St in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, said food outlets made the streets safer by counteracting drunkenness.
“It’s scientifically proven that if you close most bars and keep the takeaway places open, they come back to earth – they’re not as loud, they’re not aggro, it settles them right down,” he said.
“I’m giving them a feed. I’m not selling alcohol. The taxi rank is right across the road.”
Wollongong City Council says opening hours are determined in the development application process, with advice from police.
A council spokesman said all applications are assessed “on merit”.
But Mr Kaadan said all independent food businesses had to close at 2am – while McDonald’s down Corrimal St could trade all night.
“Why is McDonald’s open 24-7 just because that’s McDonald’s?” he said. “It’s just full-on discrimination.”
City Councillor Mithra Cox said rules over opening times should be relaxed.
“Shutting down the city to stop alcohol fuelled violence is like shutting down the roads to cut the road toll,” she said.
“We need to find a way that our city can be safe - and open. A safe city is one that has people on the street, musicians in the bars, shops that are open late and restaurants that are full.”
Wollongong Police were contacted for comment.