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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 10 years ago

Noise ordinance threatens Mattison's

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Since opening its doors seven years ago, Mattison’s City Grille has offered nightly live music for its customers until closing time. But Sarasota police put a stop to that in October after someone issued an anonymous complaint about the noise.

Mattison’s, located at 1 Lemon Ave., closes at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday. City code dictates music not in an enclosed building must end at 10 p.m. and can be no louder than 65 decibels, which is equivalent to a normal conversation.

“This code only pertains to outdoor establishments, and we’re one-of-a-kind,” said owner Paul Mattison. “If an establishment is enclosed, there is no limit on how loud the music can be.”

Mattison is appealing to city commissioners by asking if they’ll consider extending the time limit one hour, because he said the crackdown has hurt business.

The restaurateur presented a compelling case, citing the fact that he took a chance on building on his Lemon Avenue site, which had been a hangout for the homeless.

A year-and-a-half later, the city told him he’d have to close for six months, during a streetscape project.
“We again spent a significant amount of money demolishing our restaurant and rebuilding it,” Mattison said.
Commissioners were sympathetic.

“What he’s proposing doesn’t sound like a dramatic departure of what’s already there,” said Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner, who asked city staff to research it and place a discussion on the agenda for the next City Commission meeting.

Commissioner Fredd Atkins said Mattison’s music provides much needed atmosphere downtown.

“I think noise is what makes that a happening spot down there,” he said. “I don’t want to quiet them down.”
Kirschner praised Mattison’s City Grille as one of the anchors of downtown revitalization.

Said Mattison: “I truly believe because of the type of the establishment we are, a restaurant, not a bar or nightclub; the hours we keep; and the volume level we insist our performers maintain make us an asset to downtown without disturbing anyone’s lives.”

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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