Lockouts force Hugos Lounge in Kings Cross to close

Kings Cross institution Hugos Lounge is shutting down after suffering a 60% loss in revenue caused by Sydney’s lockout laws, the venue’s owners have announced. Hugos’ owners are now investigating a class action lawsuit with other operators affected by the lockout laws, to sue the State Government for their financial losses.

A long-time favourite among the Eastern Suburbs upper crust, Hugos bar, club and restaurant went into voluntary administration yesterday; this weekend may be its last in operation. Despite Hugos’ owners’ attempts to keep the venue open, a press release says, “including investing millions of dollars and selling some assets,” the 80-percent drop in visitors to Kings Cross post-lockouts has forced them to close.

“I didn’t want to be proven right, but I have been,” owner Dave Evans said in a press release. “We always said these laws would work against the good operators as well as the bad ones, and result in people simply voting with their feet and going to other, less prepared parts of Sydney. And here we are.

”[Former Premier] O’Farrell might have #notearsshed but yesterday our company, as the operator of one of the best and safest clubs in the country, probably has to say goodbye to 70 jobs because of his one size fits all approach.”

Hugos is the latest in a string of iconic Kings Cross venues to close, after the introduction of lockout and last drinks laws in February last year. Resilient nightspot Soho closed last month, saying that the loss of patronage caused by lockouts made business unviable.

Fellow Kings Cross venues The Backroom, Trademark and The Bourbon have also closed, along with Darlinghurst’s Flinders and, most recently, the enormous Q Bar complex on Oxford Street. “The area itself is a ghost town from what it used to be,” Kings Cross Liquor Accord Chief Executive Doug Grand told the SMH.

Outside the lockout zone in Erskineville, Sydney’s Imperial Hotel was served a temporary closure notice last weekend by the Office of Liquor, Gaming Racing (OLGR) and will have to fight against permanent closure. The venue’s Friday and Saturday night clubs Meanwhile and Spice have been forced out of the venue, after what Meanwhile described as a “continued vendetta carried out by OLGR and the local police.”