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James Street Gastropub to close down over repeated noise complaints

Matthew Santoni
| Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, 6:39 a.m.
The James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy in the North Side.
The James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy in the North Side.

The general manager of the James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy in Pittsburgh's East Allegheny neighborhood said the business will close next month because of repeated noise complaints from neighbors.

In a Facebook post Wednesday night, Kevin Saftner wrote that the establishment's last day will be Nov. 11. His parents had bought the club in 2011, hiring him as general manager and booking agent.

"We recently were warned that we may be made a nuisance bar due to the numerous complaints we get from our neighbors," he wrote. "The issues became so frequent that we decided we were no longer welcome here."

A staple of Pittsburgh's jazz and live music scene, James Street had been subject to numerous noise complaints from neighbors despite its efforts to add soundproofing, with help from a fundraising campaign , that would prevent music from spilling out onto the street. State law says noise from a liquor licensee's sound system can't travel beyond its property line.

The State Police Bureau of Liquor Control had cited the establishment in the middle of the Deutschtown Music Festival last year , throwing its liquor license into jeopardy.

Saftner urged his supporters to hire his staff members and expressed hope that the final weeks for the club could be enjoyable. He noted that "99 percent of our neighbors are the best neighbors in the world... I bought a house on the Northside. I won't be going anywhere."

During a news conference on an unrelated matter Thursday, Mayor Bill Peduto called James Street a cultural asset and said the city would try to mediate the situation with neighbors in an attempt to keep the tavern open.

He said Kevin Acklin, his chief of staff, spoke with James Street's owners after hearing news of the closing.

"We aren't asking the neighbors to have to sacrifice and be able to live with a constant presence of noise, but at the same time we want to be able to see what we could do to minimize any negative impact and to be able to make sure that the James Street tavern remains a part of Pittsburgh's fabric," the mayor said.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, msantoni@tribweb.com or on Twitter @msantoni.

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