Barracks Row Matchbox Thumbs Nose at ANC and Neighbors

Matchbox 003

Barracks Row Matchbox Thumbs Nose at ANC and Neighbors

Owners Refuse to Limit Patio Hours

by Larry Janezich

Fred Hermann of Matchbox told ANC6B on Tuesday night that since Matchbox doesn’t operate a loud patio and has otherwise operated responsibly, “there is no reason to adjust our hours.”  He said that the ability to operate their business as they saw fit was their right as business owners, and further, “We don’t want the ANC to dictate when we can do business.”

Hermann appeared before the Commission to support the renewal of the restaurant’s C-2 liquor license.  All other restaurant operators on Barracks Row whose licenses are up for renewal in the current round  have agreed to end their outdoor patio service at midnight Sunday – Thursday and 1:00am on Friday and Saturday.  Matchbox currently provides patio service until 2:00am Sunday – Thursday, and 3:00am Friday and Saturday.  ANC6B had asked Matchbox to sign a “settlement agreement” (formerly “voluntary agreement”) with the ANC, and swing into line with the other establishments.  The agreement would have permitted exceptions for special events on a case-by-case basis.  The settlement agreements come on behalf and in the interest of nearby neighbors who have had long-standing issues with noise on Barracks Row and on their streets as loud patrons walk to their cars in early morning hours.

Hermann’s thumbing his nose at the ANC was not well received.  Commissioner Garrison said he was “flabbergasted” at the “audacity of the move,” and urged commissioners to support a protest of the license to the ABC Commission.  Commissioner Oldenburg told Hermann, “I’m very disturbed by this.  The other restaurants on Barracks Row agreed to this; now one won’t do it.  I’m very disappointed.”  Commissioner Peisch, in whose single member district the restaurant lies, also express his unhappiness.

Commissioner Frishberg noted that in front of the ANC’s ABC Committee last week, Matchbox had only asked for flexibility for special events, and tonight has come back with something different.  None the less, he didn’t think the ANC had a solid case to justify a protest and he was concerned that the ABC Commission would ignore a protest that can’t be justified.  Commissioner Pate said he would support the motion to oppose – saying that the ANC may lose, but it is worth trying.

A motion to protest was agreed to 8 – 0 – 2.  A vote to protest signals the ANC’s concern and usually puts pressure on the applicant to sign a settlement agreement.

ANC6B’s concerns are several.  Matchbox playing by different rules than everyone else opens the door to future refusals from other restaurants who can claim a competitive disadvantage.  In addition, since the license stays with the location rather than the operator, a new owner who might not be able to make the same management claims as Matchbox could be difficult to rein in.  Most commissioners appeared to believe that Matchbox’s refusal sets a bad precedent that will only cause them future problems.


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11 responses to “Barracks Row Matchbox Thumbs Nose at ANC and Neighbors

  1. Ryan Velasco

    I don’t think the hours Matchbox would like are unreasonable. Let’s not discourage our local businesses.

  2. Norman Rice

    Good for Herman! Just because other restaurants in the area were bullied into an agreement doesn’t mean he has to go along with it. The ANC had no issues with the hours when they were trying to lure new businesses to the area. Now that they have people locked in they want to rearrange the terms!

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  4. KC

    I am often coming home late and I have not seen the problems cited–and I live right off Barracks Row. Nor have I seen the ANC commissioners out there. Typically, it is very quiet, even at 11-12 pm during the week. When Matchbox has anyone outside, they are not noisy. On weekends, it is busier, but not obnoxious

    The ANC set the rules long ago, now they need to respect them instead of being such bullys and trying to force changes to the rules they themselves agreed to.

    Perhaps it is time to limit the ANCs (or better yet, get rid of them). They just provide cover for our council members and mayor, who depend on them to create enough heat (rather than light) so that they (the council and mayor) don’t have to grapple with local issues that they should be concerned with. Maybe that would also stop some of the graft and corruption, since they would have to actually do their jobs.

    Perhaps, Mr. Janezick, it is the ANC that is thumbing their noses, not the businesses.

    • P.

      ‘better yet, get rid of them’? you just don’t know, if you think that mayors and council member should be getting involved in every little application or permit, be it for alcohol, or building, or zoning, or nightclub, or house additions, or parking, electrical/water/plumbing – you can’t be serious.

      Additionally, if you do in fact live ‘right off Barracks Row’ you can not possibly be missing the late night action around 8th St, 9th St or 7th St. And we are not talking about 11-12 at night – more like 1am, 2am, 3am when there are loud drunks, screaming girls, or young ‘drivers’ staggering towards their cars or establishments’ employees in the alleys carrying on without any regard for the neighbors that live near these businesses.

      Though true I don’t think there are any residents on the Matchbox block on 8th at all, and really no one behind them either, but it sets a bad precedent. And I think the bigger is more toward the southern end of Barracks Row which has the more drinking-bar oriented places, than the rest of 8th St which tends to be more geared toward restaurants.

  5. SS

    Agreed. Good for them. If the other restaurants caved and limited themselves, that’s their prerogative. I am “flabbergasted” that more businesses don’t play hardball when it comes to these arbitrary “rules” and often onerous “voluntary” agreements (oh, sorry, “settlements”).

  6. Good for Matchbox. Local ANC’s seem to be trying to drive away the very businesses that are crucial to thriving, lively neighborhoods that are good neighbors and make the city a more attractive place to live. This is a restaurant, not some undesirable element to be punished.

  7. Mac

    This appears to be the first time that the ANC has supported residents. Finally they be may catching on to the residents’ objections to loud patrons leaving the restaurants at 1 and 2 in the morning and returning to their cars parked on residential streets.

  8. anon

    I’m torn. Not sure the patio is any different as a source of late night noise than the inside operations. If disarming car alarms, talking loudly in residential areas, etc are the issues, and they will occur whether someone visits an outdoor or indoor establishment. If the indoor operations go late it seems to feed the same issue as the outdoor patrons. Patio service may be less of an issue than roof decks, where noise would impact the surrounding area more than the sidewalk on 8th St. Matchbox doesn’t have a roof patio, but plenty of the neighboring joints do, and thus the valid concern over precedent.

  9. Jenn M

    I concur with the above question about how keeping patios open relates to noisy patrons going to cars, seems like a non sequitur. I’m sure those same “nearby neighbors” haven’t minded their real estate values doubling since the revitalization of 8th street. As someone who lives on 9th Street, directly across the block from Matchbox, I have never noticed excessive noise, and if I was very irritated about people making noise in the city I’d soundproof my house or move to the suburbs, not try and damper the local businesses that help make the neighborhood what it is.