PEABODY — A request from Stonewood Tavern on Lynnfield Street to have more live entertainment has brought out neighbors complaining about noise and questioning whether the establishment should even be allowed to continue the entertainment it has now.
The latest proposal from Stonewood calls for “live entertainment as currently allowed,” then adds “floor shows to include but not limited to ... comedians, hypnotists, magicians and social entertainment such as paint night, dance lessons, wedding shows, etc.”
The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing on the license request during its meeting tonight, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Owner Sal Palumbo concedes that the restaurant might have crossed the line in the past, allowing things to get too loud. But he’s taken steps to remedy the problem, including installing “sound shades” in the windows, cutting back on entertainment hours, hiring a sound engineer who put “governors” on the musical equipment and “dismissing,” just a few days ago, the general manager.
In addition, Palumbo said, “I’ve gone around and I’ve talked to the neighbors and listened to their concerns. ... We’re trying to be a good neighbor.”
It’s true that the original promise to have quiet jazz as entertainment was abandoned, he said. Up to 85 percent of his customers are from Peabody, “and they didn’t want the jazz,” he said. The new program would include things like clowns for kids’ birthday parties, comedians and ballroom dancing.
“We’re not going in for rock ’n’ roll or hardcore music,” he said. “... What we’re looking for is not out of line.”
Palumbo, who also lives in Peabody, stressed that he’s allowed charities to use the restaurant several times. He said he will listen closely at tonight’s hearing “to hear what people have to say.” He might have his work cut out for him, as several have already stated their opposition, sending a petition to the council.
“The neighbors’ concerns, in particular, should be the most relevant,” said Councilor Dave Gravel. The permit granted about a year ago was based on coexistence with the residents, he pointed out. “We were originally told there was going to be a classical orchestra. Jazz. A three-piece band. ... We were told it was all about the restaurant.”
The current permit reads, “Music will be jazz, acoustic, American songbook classics and classical.”
Gravel, who has eaten at Stonewood and calls it “class A,” has nevertheless been dismayed by the music. “It’s a neighborhood environment. We’re not on Route 1. ... They’ve had bands in there that like to play loud, loud music. ... If the neighbors are not in sync with it, I can’t support it.”
In a letter signed by 11 Lynnfield Street residents, Ann Trainor complained that from Thursday to Saturday, “I have to listen to Bam Bam Bam all night. That’s not what I was told.” She recalled promises that the music would not be audible from the outside, but she said there have been loud karaoke nights, and she’s seen pictures of bands set to perform at Stonewood with six or seven members.
“The ‘quiet jazz band’ has now turned into a neighborhood disturbance,” Trainor said, “...that interferes with the quality of life of the neighbors.”
Asking that the request be denied, she complained that the language in the permit is too open-ended.
“The neighbors have been misled, and the council has been lied to,” she said. “The license should be suspended. ... Why amend a license that has been ignored?”
Alan Burke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.