Toning Down the Volume at the Black Market Moto Saloon

December 11, 2012

At the beginning of October, the Charlottesvile City Council told the owner of Black Market Moto Saloon that he was denied his request to become a permitted music hall. Since the saloon can't play amplified music, according to his certificate of authenticity, the owner thinks he has found a way to keep the live performances, while toning down the noise.

After an on-site visit from members of the City Council back in September, the Black Market Moto Saloon is a restaurant and bar struggling to have live music.

Owner of Black Market Moto Saloon, Matteus Frankovich, said, "In the past two months, we have been turning away bands, emails from bands all over the country that want to play here but can't because of this embarrassing decision that was made by the city council."

The saloon applied to become a permitted music hall. After the City Council's evaluation, they denied the request. Frankovich thinks he has found a way to still have music in his restaurant but stay within the guidelines of his restaurant permit.

"I have a certificate of authenticity that was given to me on the day we opened that says, quote, no amplified music permitted without the approved special use permit for a music hall. It says nothing about the fact that I can't have acoustic music in here," said Frankovich.

The city still sees having acoustic music in a different classification that just a restaurant.

Jim Tolbert, Director of the Charlottesville Neighborhood Development Services, said, "It steps over to a music hall definition when you advertise the music. People aren't coming to eat, they are showing up to hear the music. It doesn't matter whether it's acoustic or it's amplified."

Frankovich says that ever since the acoustic acts started playing at the saloon, he hasn't heard one complaint from the surrounding neighborhood. "I think there was a lot of misinformation that went on within the neighborhood that resulted in the negative vote for our permit," said Frankovich.

Even without any recent complaints, the city is planning on making sure the saloon understands it's zoning rules. "We know that, we've had reports that he is doing things that are beyond the scope of a restaurant and we verified some of those. So, we are in the process of drafting a letter making sure he completely understands what the rules are," said Tolbert.

Tolbert also said that this is a complex issue that has to be looked at in the context of this specific location. The city sent a letter to the Black Market Moto Saloon Tuesday night. It stated what guidelines the restaurant has broken. The letter says that any activity outside of the cities definition of a restaurant should stop immediately.

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