New Patio Hours at Great American Tavern
The eatery will keep the patio open until 9 p.m. for the rest of the summer.
The selectmen voted to extend the hours of the patio at the Great American Tavern at their meeting on Monday night. The board struggled with the decision, as the restaurant's neighbors attended the meeting and voiced their opinions about the excessive noise the restaurant creates.
The management at Great American Tavern has been dealing with complaints since last year. The lights and noise created by patrons and live bands have been an issue. The problem with lighting has been fixed, as the lights are now on a timer and the landlord changed the bulbs to help remedy the situation. However, noise still remains an issue. Patrons talking outside while smoking, peeling out of the parking lot when leaving, and live music from the bands are all problems for those who live nearby.
Great American Tavern Manager Renee Bianchi attended the meeting, and said she has taken several precautions to be sure that the noise level is not excessive. She walks the perimeter of the eatery at night and if the live music is too loud, she asks the band to turn it down. She mentioned that sound proof panels, an outdoor fence, heavier curtain for their stage, and signs reminding patrons to respect the neighbors have all been installed. Still, neighbors from Main Street and Pluff Avenue attended the meeting to remind the board that the noise issues have not been resolved.
A Pluff Avenue resident said that he has lived in the area for over 30 years, and never had a noise problem in the past. He noted that the light problem was "much better" but the noise problem still bothers him. He said that the problem was not the live bands as much as the patrons outside. Their voices carry, he said, and they are very loud until the restaurant closes.
Another Pluff Avenue resident said that live music from the bands was an issue for her. She can hear the music with all of her windows shut, she said, and can feel the vibrations from the music.
Police Chief Mike Murphy attended the meeting and said that the department was not receiving calls for noise complaints due to the eatery.
“We are not getting noise complaints as far as our records go,” Murphy said.
A Pluff Avenue resident mentioned that she didn't want to call the police department for such complaints in case there was a real emergency happening, but she could start.
Bianchi stated that she had received only two email complaints about the noise since the restaurant opened, and would still like the patio to be open past 6 p.m.
"Creating more activity outdoors can exacerbate the situation,” Selectman Steve O'Leary said.
He added that he was in support of the Great American Tavern, and wanted the board to make a decision so the eatery could take advantage of using the patio during summer months. However, he mentioned that he wanted a commitment from the restaurant management that something else would be done to remedy the other issues.
All of the selectmen agreed that they wanted the restaurant to flourish, but also to be respectful of the neighbors. The board decided that allowing the patio to stay open until 9 p.m. would not resolve, or affect the other noise issues.
Selectman Mike Prisco noted that one big problem outside of the restaurant was the patrons smoking behind the building, and he would like to see the smoking area moved to the front of the building in order to allow the traffic to block some of the noise. He suggested that the management talk to Building Inspector Jim Decola about moving the designated smoking area to the front of the building near Route 28 and to fence off the area with shrubbery.
The selectmen approved a temporary change of outdoor seating hours for the Great American Tavern. Their patio will be open until 9 p.m. until September 30. The board wants the management to return to them with solutions to three issues:
1. Noise from patrons smoking outdoors. The board's suggestion was to move the smoking area to the other side of the building, closer to Route 28.
2. Excessive noise from the live bands. The board suggested monitoring the noise level.
3. Cars peeling out of the parking lot at the end of the night. The board proposed asking the police department to make a point to have a cruiser near the restaurant on and off to see if their presence will eliminate cars peeling out of the parking lot.