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The Noise Issue: Residents living within earshot of Barracks Row on Capitol Hill were reaching for muffs upon hearing of the local Banana Cafe and Piano Bar‘splans for expanded outdoor seating (from 28 to 50 seats) and later hours of operation (staying open until 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).

The Deafening Dispute: Protesters arrived at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B meeting on Tuesday, April 13, prepared to make some noise of their own. Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg says residents along the E Street side of the restaurant, located at 500 8th Street SE, have been particularly wary of the music and revelry emanating from the upstairs piano bar. 

The Gracious One: Even the neighborhood Twitterati seemed stunned by proprietor Jorge Zamorano‘s conciliatory tone toward opponents of the plan. “Discussion on Banana Cafe noise at ANC 6b is surprisingly civil,” noted voiceofthehill that night. “Residents even calling owner ‘gracious’ for altering after hours plan.” Adds Oldenburg, “The discussion was ‘civil’ last night because the owner was genuinely surprised to hear and concerned about the neighbors complaints voiced at our Planning and Zoning Committee hearing last week.”

What’s Next?: Zamorano is cooperating with the commission to draft a voluntary agreement, binding the bar to certain conditions. He agreed to forgo the additional sidewalk seating and to restrict patrons to entering and exiting on 8th Street. (An auxiliary door on E Street will serve as an emergency exit only.) Zamorano further agreed to install soundproofing in the piano bar. In exchange, the bar will be permitted to extend business hours during the day by 30 minutes. “It is not often we deal with a restaurant owner willing to compromise so much for the sake of his neighbors,” says Oldenburg. “Very refreshing.”

Photo by Katmere, Creative Commons Attribution License