Walking down King St, Newtown (very) early one morning, I’m visualising the orange glow of the iconic signs, deciding what sauce combo to go for, anticipating the first succulent bite of doner kebab.
Imagine my horror as I realise that my destination, a destination that has in the past been reliably open until 4am, is closed. It’s not even 2am!
This horror is confounded when I scan my surroundings, looking for something, anything, to fill the kebab-shaped void in my growling stomach and am met with nothing but ‘We’re Closed’ signs.
It is no secret that the City of Sydney’s lockout laws have affected the Inner West. Since the restrictions were implemented in 2014, there has been a noted increase in anti-social behaviour in Newtown, with some traders responding by introducing 3am lockouts and bans on shots and doubles after midnight.
The latest casualty of the lockout laws is local, late-night food retailers. City of Sydney Council has begun enforcing long-ignored conditions forcing businesses – including two Newtown kebab shops and a convenience store – to stick to their approved trading hours. In the case of that beloved Newtown institution, Istanbul on King, this means 12 pm.
The kebab curfew has presumably been introduced with the intention of reducing bad behaviour in public spaces. There are a number of problems with this:
1. The timing is illogical given surrounding bars and hotels remaining open and serving drinks until 4am.
2. Local businesses are losing thousands of dollars in revenue each week. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to survive given reduced turnover.
3. Isn’t a hungry intoxicated person more of a threat than one who’s consumed a delicious kebab?
4. Kebab cravings strike at all hours. That’s a well-known, scientific fact.
5. People like kebabs, dammit!
Plus, a kebab is a powerful incentive to stop drinking and go home, picking up a meat box on your way.
Furthermore, drunken youths aren’t the only ones looking to gorge on a kebab in the wee hours. Staff from RPA have already started a petition demanding a return to the old opening hours.
The crux of the issue, however, comes down to the fact that we are focusing on the wrong thing. Rather than trying to limit the situations in which the alcohol-fuelled violence can be committed, we need to look at why people are committing violence in the first place. Germans can get plastered without coward punching others, so why can’t we Aussies? I don’t know the answer but one thing is for sure; taking away our kebabs isn’t the solution. Have you ever been angry while munching down on a kebab? It’s not possible.
Words: Maani Truu