Bosses at a Polish shop in Dundee have failed to secure an alcohol licence despite claiming homesick expats will find Christmas tougher without imported booze.
Newly opened Food Plus on Lochee High Street hoped to obtain a two-week occasional licence to sell alcohol from now until New Year.
A representative from the shop pleaded with licensing board members to make Christmas more bearable for the 3,000 ethnic Poles living in the city.
She said: “It’s a difficult time and we are running a very unusual shop; it’s the biggest Polish shop in Dundee.
“Polish people cannot really travel back there because they would have to quarantine for two weeks when they return.
“We have a culture where we drink alcohol during Christmas. I know it is so bad to say but it’s something very traditional for us.
“For us, it’s family time.
“I think it’s important and the shop is not going to make a fortune in two weeks.”
She added the specialist supermarket would have sold a wide selection of wine, beer, and vodka from the eastern European nation, much of which she claimed is not available elsewhere locally.
Vodka is considered Poland’s national drink and is commonly drunk neat without a mixer.
At social occasions, it is often used to toast good health.
Councillor Georgia Cruickshank said the licence should be granted as a festive gesture of “goodwill” to help Poles unable to travel home due to the pandemic.
She said: “It’s the festive season and she has said it would help Polish people celebrate Christmas in Polish style.”
Lochee councillor Charlie Malone also supported the idea, saying the business is “quite clearly a food store” and not just an off-licence.
However, convener Stewart Hunter said allowing the licence would go against measures to restrict the number of shops selling booze in the city.
The over-provision policy has been in place for almost three years and is designed to improve public health and reduce addiction.
Health officials have long-argued the availability of cheap drink may be a factor in the city’s high alcohol-related deaths and ill health.
The council’s senior licensing solicitor Brian Woodcock also warned the board the shop may have a legal case to extend the licence.
He said: “If you grant the licence today for 14 days and the applicant comes back to apply for another licence after that and there is no change of circumstances, it would be very difficult for the board to refuse.”
The application was narrowly rejected by four votes to three.