College music scene at Sylva’s No Name Pub clashes with neighbors
Two years ago, Gregg Fuller tried to fill a void in Sylva’s nightlife scene when he opened the No Name Sports Pub, featuring drinks, food and live bands three to four nights a week. But soon, the increasingly boisterous crowds and loud music became a bit too much for the nearby neighbors.
Off the beaten path, the pub resides in a mostly industrial part of town. Yet, about three residents, who have lived in the neighborhood for decades, continuously call the police on Fuller’s pub, complaining about the noise it creates.
The neighbors say they miss the solitude and quiet they had before the bar moved in.
Two of the neighbors, living less than 80 feet from the bar, appeared before the Sylva town board last week to plead their case. At the meeting, 74-year-old James Lupo, who has lived in the neighborhood for 46 years, said his primary concern was the music played at the pub.
“I’ve sat in the house a few times and have had to put ear plugs in my ears on account of the noise,” he said. “They holler and carry on, and you know how those folks are when they get a few beers and everything.”
Lupo said the noise especially bothers his wife who has multiple sclerosis. He was accompanied at the meeting by fellow neighbor, Linda Beck, who said she is especially concerned for her boyfriend who has lung cancer and is laid up in a hospital bed in the living room without long to live. He has lived in that house for nearly 50 years.
“It’s just the noise,” said the 52-year-old Beck. “It wakes him up because he gets startled and he thinks someone is breaking in … It takes me a couple of hours to get him back to sleep.”
Fuller estimates he has had the police called on him about 30 times during the past year or so to check on the noise levels. The calls usually come just before 11 p.m. when Sylva’s noise ordinance reaches its sensitive hour for boisterous music and activity.
Fuller has bands most nights of the week, but said he keeps the noisy ones inside.
On the patio, he schedules one- and two-person acoustic sets to play. To them, he recites the same nightly speech to avoid further problems.
“I tell them, ‘Last song at 10:45 (p.m.) and you’d better have your mouth shut by 10:50 (p.m.),’” Fuller said. “Because if you don’t, the neighbors will call the police department.”
He claims, because of his regard for the law, that out of all the police visits he has had to the establishment he has only received one violation — for a bar patron who went to the parking lot and began playing an acoustic guitar after 11 p.m., unbeknownst to Fuller.
Sylva Police Chief Davis Woodard said that while the bar is technically not violating the town’s noise ordinance if the bands are turned down by 11 p.m., he understands the annoyance it causes for neighbors.
“I asked (Fuller) if he’d be doing the same thing if it was his grandma living there,” Woodard said.
Fuller said since he opened two years ago, he has stretched his closing time to 2 a.m. from 12 a.m. and added live music, both to appease his growing customer base.
While several bars or restaurants in Sylva have live music once a week or so, No Name is the closest thing to a true college bar with regular live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at least, plus an open mic night..
No Name is not the only local joint that’s been the source of noise complaints. Last year, Soul Infusion Tea House and Bistro sparked the ire of neighbors who also appealed to the Sylva town board. Town leaders tightened up the noise ordinance in response. Under the new ordinance, noise heard more than 20 feet from its source between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. is too loud.
But for Fuller, it comes down, in part, to weighing the desires of the 300 or so patrons that visit his bar on a given night against the desires of the three neighbors that constantly hound his business.
“It’s important to me to get along with my neighbors,” Fuller said. “And I feel like I’ve done everything within reason short of shutting the place down to keep my neighbors happy.”
He said he even reorganized the back room of the restaurant, moving all the arcade games and pool tables, so bands could be moved inside where they will create less noise. But, he said sometimes the complaints of his neighbors go too far. For example, while hosting an outdoor benefit concert for victims of Leukemia and Lymphoma, the cops arrived and told Fuller to pack it up well before 11 p.m.
“We raised $2,600, and we could have raised over $3,000 if they hadn’t shut us down,” Fuller said. “I don’t think my neighbors like the sound of happy people.”
Woodard said for the past two weeks, at least, the noise disputes, and apparently the pub, have quieted a bit. The last time an officer went to the establishment was Oct. 27 to check on a potential noise disturbance. Woodard said in that instance, the door to the bar had been left ajar because it was hot inside, but closing it solved the problem.
“We haven’t had any problems since,” said Woodard.