Bar business buzzes despite noise law

By Gus Bode

Erin Hederman didn’t expect serene afternoons and silent nights when she moved into a house on Washington Street on the same block with Sidetracks Bar and Grill. She assumed she would often hear music from the bar’s beer garden late into the night.

While Hederman said she doesn’t have a major problem with the noise from the bar, the topic has been one of controversy over the past couple years. Carbondale is entering its second summer of quieter weekday nights due to a change to the city’s noise ordinance.

Hederman just wishes the music were better.


“It’s all cheesy, cheesy rap,” said Hederman, a sophomore from Chicago studying elementary education.

Complaints from those who lived near beer gardens led the City Council to change the city’s noise law last year, essentially banning live music in beer gardens Sunday through Thursday.

For the most part, beer garden owners and managers said the ordinance had a relatively minor effect on business.

James Karayiannis, owner of Pinch Penny Pub, said he has seen a roughly 10 to 20 percent drop in the number of patrons through the door on typical Thursday nights, but Thursday was the only weekday the bar typically had bands previous to the changed ordinance.

However, he said that because Pinch Penny no longer has live music on Thursdays, the bar’s in-house sound engineer had to take a second job in landscaping to supplement his income.

Regardless of the impact on his business, Karayiannis said the amended ordinance has not ruined weeknights and the situation could be worse.

“It’s not a horror story,” he said.


Mayor Brad Cole said he received frequent complaints about noise from the bars before the ordinance was changed and he has not heard of any similar problems in the past year.

“The alternative was to do away with them all together and this was just sacrificing one night – basically Thursdays,” Cole said.

Sidetracks general manager Bryan Woodruff said there has been a noticeable impact on business in the past year, but the bar has attempted to compensate by increasing advertising and offering different specials.

Woodruff said he has not had to fire any employees due to the ordinance, but he considers the change in business when he hires new people.

“In general, I think it’s relatively fair because it was across the board, so it affects everybody that has beer gardens,” he said.

Cassie Linders, a senior from Sparta studying English and administration of justice, lives in an apartment in Lewis Park, which faces Pinch Penny Pub. She said she doesn’t have a major problem with the noise, even while there are bands playing in the beer garden on weekends.

“When there are no bands during the week, the music they are playing is just as loud as the bands anyway,” she said.

Joe Crawford can be reached at 536-3311