SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 28, 2014

Stonewood Tavern to meet with residents over noise

By Alan Burke
Staff Writer

---- — PEABODY — The owner of Stonewood Tavern will host a meeting with residents on Saturday at 9 a.m. as part of an effort to address complaints over excess noise at the restaurant.

“I’m trying to make everyone happy,” said Sal Palumbo. “I’m trying to straighten out everything and all the issues.” He said he will tell his neighbors “how we have cut back on entertainment.”

Not completely. Palumbo has actually applied to expand his entertainment license, asking for permission to have a comedian to entertain in his function room or for “comedy nights,” as well as clowns and magicians for events like birthday parties. But the application gave City Council an opportunity to make a request of its own, namely that he provide an amended entertainment plan that neighbors could live with.

When the tavern was slow in responding, the council allowed the renewal of his 2014 entertainment license for only 30 days while demanding the amended plan. Palumbo responded with a letter last Thursday outlining what he’s done, including hiring a sound expert, Bruce Hagopian of The Hago Group, to assess the problem.

“Mr. Hagopian was able to immediately adjust, rebalance and reduce the intensity of the sound system,” Palumbo said in his letter. He also hired Acentech to analyze sound inside and outside of the tavern while a band played, he said.

Palumbo wanted to speak at the last council meeting, but Councilor Anne Manning-Martin objected, noting he wasn’t on the agenda. His letter had only moments before been provided to the council. The restaurateur hopes to be given an opportunity to speak at the next meeting.

Among the recommended improvements he is undertaking is the installation of a $12,000 door designed to block the sound coming from the function room. Further, he is conceding to complaints about large musical groups, promising that no group with more than six people will be part of the regular entertainment. On the other hand, larger bands could perform at wedding receptions in his function room, he said.

Because Palumbo said installing his new door will take up to 45 days, he is asking for a 90-day extension of his entertainment license.

Initially councilors were offended that his previous promise to feature only three-piece jazz bands was abandoned. Having read his latest submission, however, some are expressing cautious optimism.

“It looks like he’s trying to be proactive,” Tom Gould said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s done everything he needs to do to get his license amended. ... He’s trying a little.”

Ward councilor Barry Osborne, who supported Palumbo’s effort to speak, said he was encouraged by his cooperation, and he seemed convinced that the matter can be worked out to the satisfaction of all concerned.

In his message to the council, Palumbo stressed the benefits to the city his establishment brings. More than three dozen organizations, including Haven From Hunger and Peabody Little League, have benefited from his charitable efforts. The tavern has provided nearly $70,000 in tax revenue and a $1 million-plus yearly payroll going, for the most part, to Peabody residents.

Most of the customers are Peabody residents, as well, he added.

“They told us they didn’t want jazz,” he said.