Council gives eatery OK for music

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 21, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The show will go on at Baron’s Pub, regardless of the hour.

The Suffolk City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve the new downtown eatery’s request for a permit allowing it to feature live entertainment.

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Overriding city planners’ recommendations that music be limited to certain hours, the council approved the request with no time restrictions.

Initially, the city’s planning commission added restrictions that would have prohibited the restaurant, scheduled to open this fall, from offering music before 5 p.m. during the week and on Sundays. Planners put the restriction in place because of concerns the music would be disruptive to the surrounding business and church community.

Tyler McMillen, a partner in opening the pub, asked council members to remove the restriction and give the restaurant the opportunity to act responsibly. In particular, he said, the Sunday limitation would prevent the restaurant from having a classical guitarist perform during its planned Sunday brunches.

&uot;We’ve never had any problems with our music in Portsmouth,&uot; McMillen said. Three churches are located within a couple of blocks of the restaurant, which is centered in that city’s historic downtown business district, he added.

Residents, who spoke during a public hearing, agreed.

&uot;You are in the process of financing a hotel that has provisions for conventions,&uot; said T.C. Williams, president of the Rosemont-Lloyd Place Civic League. &uot;Conventions don’t go to places where there is nothing to do after the meetings end …when delegations are looking for a place to have a drink and get a bite to eat.

&uot;We need to give these gentlemen their due opportunity.&uot;

Former Mayor Andy Damiani, who heads the Downtown Business Association, also supported the proposal.

&uot;Let’s not put the handcuffs on these folks,&uot; he said. &uot;Their success could encourage others to come downtown.&uot;

Council members agreed.

&uot;I think what you are doing is positive, even though it is somewhat new to us,&uot; Councilman Bobby Ralph said. &uot;You operate a reputable restaurant in Portsmouth and I think you understand what we need in Suffolk.&uot;