Cuppa and a cab is great way to keep revellers safe
After-hours café is a Scottish first
12.10.2017 A unique project that aims to keep late-night revellers safe has been hailed a massive success.
Alyson Finnigan, owner of Kilty Kilty, Fantoosh and Cafuffals on Paisley’s New Street came up with the idea of the Night Café more than a year ago.
She was concerned about customers’ experiences getting home once they left her premises and vowed to come up with a solution.
A year after jumping through hoops and talking to her lawyers, Paisley police, Renfrewshire Cab Company and Renfrewshire Council’s Licensing Board, she was granted an extension to her licence to run the Night Café.
Kilty Kilty stops serving alcohol at 2am – nightclub Fantoosh at 3am – and all the customers inside are welcome to wait, order a soft drink and a snack from the kitchen, and wait on a taxi, which is ordered by door staff via a specially-designed app.
Once it arrives, staff come and get the customer and escort them to their taxi.
Since it began in May, Alyson said it’s been a big success.
“New Street is the busiest street for the nighttime economy in Paisley,” she explained.
“You can stand there and look at the people who are struggling to get home at the end of the night.
“I had a think about what we could do for our customers. How could we make it easier and safer for them?
“When people are out in the street, full of alcohol, cold and frustrated, that’s when you can get trouble.
“But since it began, it’s all been completely positive and troublefree. There have been no incidents inside or outside the bar.”
She added: “It’s important to emphasise that our customers don’t have priority over any other hires. What we’re providing is a waiting area in a safe place.”
The Night Café runs every Friday and Saturday night and is co-ordinated by Avril Taylor, a door steward for Kilty Kilty.
Alyson said: “Everybody knows Avril and sings her praises. The taxi drivers are all getting to know her and she keeps it all running really well.
“Hats off to the staff, often they’re working till 4.30am, but they don’t leave till every customer has gone.
“It’s being funded by ourselves. We pay the stewards, we pay the chef and bar staff, but I knew that when I went into it.”
Hannah McCulloch, office manager for Renfrewshire Cab Company, said Avril was key to the scheme’s success.
She said: “I loved the idea from the start and have backed Alyson 100 per cent. We are so grateful to Avril for how well she runs the scheme. There’s no messing about and the drivers are very grateful for that.
“Alyson came up with this idea and it’s unique. I hope other places look at doing it as well.”
The scheme is the first of its kind in Scotland and Paisley police said other divisions are watching its success.
Community Police Inspector Tracy Harkins said: “We have noticed a difference in the volume of people waiting for taxis, which assists in preventing disorder.
“It suits us down to a tee because people aren’t hanging about the street the same way and causing trouble.
“Alyson and her team run it very well and we’ve no issues with it. It’s been going great so far.”
Councillor Andy Steel, convener of the council’s Licensing Board, added: “The request for an increase to the licensing hours of Kilty Kilty’s was approved in November 2016 to allow the bar to pioneer this new scheme.
“The innovative project appears to have achieved initial success and the council, alongside Police Scotland, will continue to monitor its progress.
“Paisley has been awarded Purple Flag status in recognition of its thriving evening and night time economy, which requires the town to promote the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.
“Projects such as this will ensure the area continues to improve the local economy by offering a diverse mix of dining and entertainment venues, while ensuring there is the appropriate regard taken for customers’ welfare.”
Success Kilty Kilty door steward Avril Taylor has been praised for how well she runs the Night Café