‘It smells like burnt steak’: Meat odour complaints from residents force closure of Longhorn Saloon in Carlton
17 April 2017
Residents annoyed at the smell and smoke from grilled meat drifting
through their balcony windows and ventilation have forced the closure
of an inner Melbourne steakhouse.
The Longhorn Saloon in Elgin Street, Carlton, shut its doors on Friday
after it was hit by an improvement notice from the City of Melbourne,
which found that the smoke, food and cooking odours being emitted by
the restaurant were "offensive and constituted a nuisance".
Residents living near Longhorn Saloon on Elgin Street in Carlton say thick, fat-laden smoke fumes filled their apartments.
In addition to a series of complaints about the smell, a group of upset
residents from a neighbouring apartment building had also objected to
the council about excessive noise from the kitchen's extractor fans.
The restaurant had been given three weeks to install new ventilation
systems when the initial order was given on March 22, but owner Will
Balleau said meeting that timeframe was impossible. He said the cost of
the work had been quoted at $100,000.
The Longhorn Saloon in Carlton and the apartment next door. Photo: Mathew Lynn
Mr Balleau, who also co-owns Le Bon Ton in Collingwood, said he had signed up to a long-term commercial lease on the property.
The bar and restaurant — with a 400-person capacity — had been
operating since early 2015 and had been inspected multiple times by the
council with no problems, he said.
"I've laid off my staff, it's been a nightmare, it's been the most
stressful thing I've had to deal with since I started my business," he
However, resident Austin Hall said the restaurant had been pumping out
plumes of noxious smoke and cooking smells from its kitchen six days a
week, over many hours.
Wood-grilled steak at Longhorn Saloon. Photo: Supplied
He said the breeze would drive the exhaust into the building's
west-facing apartments, forcing residents to leave their balconies and
"You can smell the steaks, the cooking fats and oil and grease that gets vaporised into the air," he said.
"They do cooking over flames, there's burning fat and the smell of BBQ ribs."
Under the legislation which covers the improvement notice, Mr Balleau
is able to appeal the decision in the Magistrates Court, but he would
have to close his kitchen until the matter is heard.
If he disobeys the order, he faces a fine of more than $93,000 and a potential criminal proceeding.
"I don't want to have to appeal in front of a judge even though I'm convinced he or she would find this ridiculous," he said.
He likened the issue to residents moving next door to an inner-city pub and complaining about the noise.
"Cooking steaks and fries is not criminal nuisance," he said.
Smoke from the Longhorn Saloon kitchen captured on video by residents.
"As food sales comprise almost 60 per cent of Longhorn's revenue we
cannot continue to trade without a kitchen. I have no choice but to
close the venue, even if temporarily, as I need to comply with the no
emissions order or face criminal charges."
As part of the evidence against Longhorn Saloon, Mr Hall filmed a
series of videos of smoke emitting from the chimneys on top of the
kitchen. Residents have also provided written logs of the impact.
Mr Hall said residents couldn't dry their laundry outside their flat:
"It gets into your clothing, furniture and upholstery," he said.
Another home owner, Tania Wilson, said she had been living in the
apartment building for 10 years and there had been no issues with
previous restaurants that had occupied the premises.
She said residents were unable to open up their apartment during hot days in summer.
"Earlier in the day, it smells like burnt wood, then later it smells like burnt steak," she said.
"We have to close the doors, otherwise the place will literally smell like a bushfire."
A City of Melbourne spokesperson said the restaurant was first advised
on March 15 about the impending improvement notice and that it had been
given sufficient time to make the necessary changes.
"We will continue to work with them to ensure they are given the
opportunity to improve the operation of their ventilation systems,"
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