Local authorities in Bali have closed down the newly opened The Cave Restaurant in Uluwatu after a video of the venue went viral on social media. According to local reports, the restaurant was not known to local authorities and is operating in breach of several licensing conditions.
Last week a video taken by a diner at The Cave Restaurant went viral on local news outlets. The video showed a short tour of the restaurant, and a glimpse at the menu, and the diner explained how visitors should arrive early to make sure they had plenty of time to take photos at the unique eatery.
The Cave Restuarant, which belongs to The Edge Hotel has been temporarily closed down by the Badung Public Service Office (Saptol PP). The venue is located on Jalan Goa Lempeh, Pecatu Village in Ulutwau. Officers visited the hotel and restaurant on Tuesday 19th July and revoked business licenses and told management to cease operations with immediate effect. The restaurant only opened its doors in May 2022.
The legal issues at hand span across a number of authority departments. First, Badung Saptol is not convinced at The Cave Restaurant has sufficient permits to use the cave as a restaurant facility. Secondly, questions are being raised about whether the cave is a site of Balinese heritage despite being located on the privately owned land of The Edge Hotel.
Since the cave was previously unknown to any authorities in Bali and was reportedly discovered during the construction of The Edge hotel, there may now be calls for a public inquiry to establish whether the cave is of importance to Balinese heritage and culture and therefore public property.
Finally, there needs to be an investigation into the construction of the restaurant itself, since authorities are suggesting that the management did not have permission to undertake construction works in the cave as part of their development permissions for the hotel.
Speaking to the press last week the head of the Badung Regency Civil Service Police Unit, I Gusti Agung Ketut Suryanegara, said that he had seen the viral video of The Cave Restaurant and did not want to judge before he had seen the venue for himself.
On Tuesday he and his team visited the restaurant and met with the management team. It was after this meeting that Suryanegara had sufficient grounds to order the restaurant to be closed down pending further investigation. The Edge Hotel remains open.
He told reporters on Tuesday that ‘What is certain is that from the review, the conclusions drawn, for the activities of The Cave Restaurant are temporarily suspended’. He confirmed that the Badung Saptol PP completed an assessment of the facility along with the other relevant agencies.
He said that his teams now want to complete a study of the cave to establish whether the site is of specific cultural importance or significant environmental importance.
If this is the case The Cave Restaurant may have to operate under different conditions and allow unrestricted public access to what would be declared as public property. If the cave is found to be of cultural or environmental importance it then becomes the responsibility of the state government to maintain and preserve the site.
Local news outlets suggest that local communities in Pecatu Village and surrounding areas were not aware of the cave until the video went viral. It seems that there is no record of the cave in local folklore or historical texts, though authorities will investigate this in greater detail during the review process.
Suryanegara concluded his statement by saying ‘if the recommendation [from the invetsigation] is not feasible and is not allowed, then certainly it is not allowed. To ensure that this location is temporarily closed, we will immediately put a prohibition line, so that there is no activity there. If they are caught secretly carrying out activities, we will give a warning according to our standard operating procedures’.
At the time of writing neither The Cave Restaurant nor The Edge Hotel had released statements regarding the case.
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