The Summer Bribe
Summers in London had been progressively worsening over the past few years. Once the pubs and bars closed at 11:00 p.m., desperate drinkers sought solace in unlicensed drinking dens and seedy, overpriced nightclubs. Public transportation was poor and, on a Friday and Saturday, most people were trapped in town until the first train or bus of the next morning.
In this environment, grimy peep shows and all-night sex cinemas did a roaring trade. Avaricious café owners, seeing their chance at easy money, decided to stay open later and later, attracting drunks, junkies and prostitutes with all the problems associated with that lifestyle.
Local legislation required café owners to have a special “night-café” permit to stay open after 11:00 p.m., and the premises had to meet minimum standards of safety, hygiene and security while not exceeding a maximum number of patrons. License conditions were stringent, and the costs could be prohibitive for small businesses. As with any licensed trade, a small group of proprietors decided to chance their luck and operate as unlicensed night cafés.
One of these proprietors was Faisal Hussain. He was a naturalized UK citizen who had been born and raised in Lebanon. Hussain’s family had moved to the United Kingdom in the 1960s, when he was a child, and had settled in London in 1973. The family opened a series of cafés and restaurants across the country, catering to the Lebanese expatriates as well as to the burgeoning ...