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March 19, 2014

Stonewood Tavern gets council's OK for smaller bands

City also to allow comics, clowns and DJs

PEABODY — The next three months will tell whether Stonewood Tavern owner Sal Palumbo has resolved the entertainment issues at his South Peabody establishment to the satisfaction of neighbors and local officials.

The City Council agreed to amend Palumbo’s entertainment license last week on a provisional basis with a list of restrictions to alleviate concerns that the function room at the restaurant had become a boisterous nightclub. It was a far cry from the small jazz trios Palumbo promised when he opened the restaurant in 2012.

The council limited the size of the bands — for example, no more than four people in the main dining area and no more than six in the adjoining Amber Room — and also expanded the license to include comedians, clowns and DJs.

Ward 1 Councilor Barry Osborne said those uses allow Palumbo to branch out and host more family-friendly activities, as opposed to just live bands. Comedy nights for local charities, for instance, weren’t possible under the old license.

Osborne has been critical of Palumbo but said he doesn’t want to put him out of business.

The vote Thursday was 9-2, with councilors Anne Manning-Martin and Tom Gould opposed. Manning-Martin said last fall that Palumbo needed to be kept “on a short leash.” Three neighbors also spoke at the hearing: two opposed and one in favor.

The amended license will be reviewed in three months.

Complaints started to pour in shortly after the function hall opened last summer, and councilors confirmed reports of eight- to 10-piece bands. Palumbo responded by firing three managers and a fourth employee and hiring a sound engineer to reduce the noise level. He also hired a firm to analyze the acoustics and plans to follow a recommendation to install a new, specialized door to the function room that may cost $12,000 and should further soundproof the room.

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