Reading’s latest Mexican fast food restaurant has been granted a licence to sell alcohol, despite concerns from a neighbouring dentist.

The council's licensing committee voted today (June 11) to grant a licence to Mexican chain Tortilla, which will open at Unit 1, on 4-6 Broad Street.

Rob Lucy, property director at Tortilla, said: “With the coronavirus pandemic, it is going to be a very different outlook but we are really looking forward to opening up in Reading and adding to the vitality in the area.”

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The Reading Borough Council (RBC) licence hearing was held because Dr Hanel Nathwani, clinical director and cosmetic dentist at Reading Smiles, complained about the impact the fast food restaurant would have on his practice.

The licence grants Tortilla, which was previously a Virgin Media shop, opening hours from 8am to 12.30am, with sale of alcohol from 10am-12am.

However, the business will not be able to open past 11pm until it gets planning permission to do so.

Approval was given by the council’s licensing committee subject to a series of conditions, including:

• Recording CCTV

• Training staff on the sale of acohol

• Only selling alcohol alongside a substantial amount of food.

Dr Nathwani, who did not show up for the virtual meeting, said patients leaving his practice next door to a premises serving alcohol goes against the ethos of his business “from a patient journey perspective” and “would damage Reading Smiles excellent reputation”.

He said the area is already heavily populated with licensed premises and another one would exacerbate the security issues the dental surgery already faces.

The dentist said the surgery had been broken into twice, forcing him to update to the security, and insurance costs would go up further if another licensed premises is added.

But Tortilla representative Jack Spiegler, speaking at the meeting, said the company has never had any complaints from neighbours at its 42 other premises, which he said all operate in close proximity to other local businesses or residents.

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Dr Nathwani also said the smell of food from Tortilla “will undoubtedly penetrate the building” and impact on patients’ relaxing and professional experience.

However, Mr Lucy said all food except guacamole and salsas are cooked in Tottenham Hale and only re-heated in the restaurants, with no extractor fan needed.

The dentist had asked the council not to allow drinking and eating outside the restaurant, but this request was not discussed at the hearing.

RBC’s planning team granted permission for the unit to be changed from a shop to restaurant in November 2019.

Tortilla’s opening follows similar fast food chain Taco Bell, setting up at the Broad Street Mall, in December.