The Grove's Close Confines Have Residents and Club Owners Battling Over Noise

Categories: Longform

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Steve Truesdell
Doug Moore and Brad Fratello's patio and pool backs up to the Ready Room.
On June 24, as hundreds of fans entered the Ready Room — a new 800-person-capacity music venue on Manchester Avenue in the Grove — they were greeted with a warning sign: "Tonight's show features excessive volume levels. Hearing protection available at front door." The experimental-rock group Swans would soon treat the audience to one of its brutally loud and viscerally exhausting performances — a sweaty, two-hour set of heavy guitar drone and chest-thumping bass.

Next door at the Demo — a much smaller sister venue which opened its doors in May, just a month after the Ready Room — rock group the Paul Collins Beat christened the stage along with fellow pop-influenced bangers Sherbert and Bruiser Queen.

Inside the two venues, the crowds roared their approval. Outside, it was a different story.

"Throwing two bands in a blender is what it's like to be in our back yard," says Grove resident Brad Fratello.

Fratello and his husband, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Doug Moore, own the Forest Park Southeast home that abuts the back wall of the Ready Room. Fratello, a professor at St. Louis Community College, says he can hear shows happening on the stage only twenty feet away from where his head hits the pillow at night — even with all the doors and windows closed.

"It's not just a bass thumping. We can hear lyrics of songs. We can hear the entire array of instruments," he says. "We're talking about potentially $1 million worth of residential investments backed up immediately against probably the loudest potential commercial venues that one could put someplace."

In the back yard, the edge of Fratello and Moore's in-ground swimming pool sits a mere five feet from the Ready Room. There's not an alley, garage or even a fence between them. About twelve feet up the wall is the window of the venue's greenroom — frosted by the building's owners so the couple could enjoy some privacy, including their customary skinny dipping, in their own back yard. Fratello can see the silhouette of a piece of paper taped up on the inside of the pane. He doesn't know what it says, but he guesses it probably has something to do with the fact that, for a period of time, bands would prop the window open and ash their cigarettes directly into his yard. That, at least, has stopped.

See also: The Demo Closed Indefinitely Due to Noise Complaints from Grove Residents

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Steve Truesdell
The Ready Room is Mike Cracchiolo's largest venue to date.
For these reasons and more, Fratello and Moore and many of their neighbors are fed up. They've spearheaded a campaign to put a stop to the noise, and they're hitting the venues where it hurts: their liquor licenses.

"We were told by our alderman, Joe Roddy, essentially, that protesting the liquor licenses of these two clubs was our only avenue to start to reach some sort of compromise," says Fratello. "All the neighbors that have signed it have seen it as the last resort. We were literally told that there was no other way for us to move forward, to have ourselves heard."

It's working. After a backlash from the neighborhood and subsequent removal of a conditional-use catering license, the Demo closed on June 26. Without bar sales to sustain its business model, the venue canceled or parceled out 60-plus shows from its event calendar to other local venues including Fubar, 2720 Cherokee and the Ready Room next door. But the Ready Room is in jeopardy as well, with formal complaints against both venues circulating among the residents. They are asking the city to take a harder look at the clubs.

"I never went into it promising the world because I knew we were going to generate some noise. I knew there were going to be issues and that we'd have to work on this as neighbors," says Mike Cracchiolo, managing partner of both the Ready Room and the Demo. "I am sympathetic to it, but at the same time, as a businessperson, the Grove is the spot for me. This is the spot for the most potential as a walkable entertainment district.

"Venues are constantly bringing people in who have never been here before. A lot of places reacted directly to this moving in," he goes on. "Bars are keeping later hours, their business starts to pick up. It's understandable why the neighbors are upset, but at the same time, some of that growth is inevitable."

The controversy seems to mark a moment of transition for the Grove. It's changing from a moderately busy club district popular with the LGBT crowd that's bordered by an increasingly affluent residential neighborhood, into a full-fledged entertainment district — and everything that goes along with that.

"That's sort of a good problem to have," says Chip Schloss, owner of long-standing area restaurant and venue Atomic Cowboy. "It's growing pains for the neighborhood."

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176 comments
Kristina Taylor-Murray
Kristina Taylor-Murray

But the bars were not there like this when they moved in. I'm all for that mentality if you move into a neighborhood like Soulard knowing it's packed with bars on every corner. This area only in the last ten or so years became filled with restaurants and bars. And I'm happy it's thriving like it is but I think it's up to these establishments to properly soundproof so that the residents can live in peace. It's a great area for all concerned so let's keep everyone happy

Violet Jones
Violet Jones

They should be happy the area is revitalized. People who like near bars and bitch about the noise are ridiculous. Wtf do you expect. That part of the city is pretty tame to boot and well-patrolled.

Chris Gee
Chris Gee

Unlike. These people need to get over it. Sorry but you will not stop growth of venues . If it's not one it will be another and another. Move if you don't like it. I swear if the ready room closes down before that circa survive show I'm going to raise pure hell with that neighborhood.

Matt Bartosz
Matt Bartosz

These bars are on Manchester. No matter where you are, you should expect it to be like living near train tracks. Blame your Realtor.

Bridget Scott
Bridget Scott

simple: MOVE. and it not a black or white issue. lets enjoy.

Lauren Gunther
Lauren Gunther

Actually before they built their home there was an active club on the corner, premium lounge. It is now the twisted tiki. I also think Erney's 32, which is across the street diagonally from twisted tiki, was open as well as agave, which is now sanctuaria. Plenty of activity was happening. There are other places they could have built in the neighborhood or they could have rehab a home in the neighborhood that is not as close to the clubs.

Rusty Ake
Rusty Ake

Really, David goldstick? Sounds like u have a goldstick up ur ass! St. Louis is a friendly town! Just not tolerant of douchebags that move here for the wrong reasons! They can take their 1.5 million in renovations and fuck off to the suburbs for some peace and quiet! How dare they move there, expect no noise, and try to ruin people's businesses and livelihood? TWATS!

Tom Coll
Tom Coll

Ok luke. 2 words. Lol. Still drama causers wanting for attention

David Goldstick
David Goldstick

Also, many of the comments in this thread are derogatory in nature or insenstive to the LGBT community. The adage of St. Louis being a friendly town must be more of a marketing ploy than anything.

David Goldstick
David Goldstick

Even if you had a valid point, it's overshadowed by your hatefulness. And you cowardly hide in anonymity. Despicable.

Keith Stephens
Keith Stephens

It appeared some of the noise issues were being addressed. Need a follow-up, RFT.

Edgar Determan
Edgar Determan

Also, article says business owners did the audio tests to make sure they are legal and are trying to fix problems. Both sides gotta give, i think it's,homeowners turns to dial it back a bit.

Chelsy McInnis
Chelsy McInnis

They took the gamble when they bought houses that backed up to buildings that were commercially zoned.

Timothy Clark
Timothy Clark

So, If he is your "Husband" What the Hell are you?

Tom Coll
Tom Coll

Two idiots. U dont move into a business district and then complain about noise. Wonder how many nights a week they are in the bars down there. One word drama causers. Lol

michaelm3350
michaelm3350

Reading these homophobic comments makes he wonder why some of the bigots even care about the Grove! Why would you want to hang in a neighborhood that was totally revitalized by Gay Men? Go back to the swamp in Riverport where you belong!

Lori Grisham
Lori Grisham

Rumor has it they have a history of this. Did the same thing on Washington ave.....they knew what they were doing when they moved to the grove.

Crow Demonico
Crow Demonico

Obviously they didnt live there till the grove wad redone it was a complete shit hole they should move there are quieter areas of the city

Virginia Superwolf
Virginia Superwolf

I think there is a lack of empathy on both ends. These guys aren't realizing that they live in a *city* not a suburb - so, expect noise... Also they're not being empathetic to the fact that businesses in The Grove is what has revamped it from its shoddy past. And the concert venues.... if I was a business owner, I would definitely not choose to build my concert venue right behind a person's house - kinda rude.

Virginia Superwolf
Virginia Superwolf

I partially see where they're coming from. It doesn't seem like they have a problem with the bars and businesses in The Grove, they have an issue with the concert venues (The Ready Room and the Demo) that were recently built RIGHT behind their house. Also they lived there before The Ready Room and Demo were built there. Yet again they have no right to tell businesses where to build their establishments, and living in an urban area with bars and clubs you open yourself up to the possibility that a loud venue might be opened up near or by your home one day. Also, they must go to bed early or something... I don't know many concerts that go on past 11:30pm. It wouldn't bother me at all personally. If they want to live somewhere that is always guaranteed to be quiet, live in the suburbs, not the city!

David Huffman
David Huffman

In this situation, the residents were there long before the club.

Denise Hestand Schilling
Denise Hestand Schilling

Not cool. Wasn't this neighborhood on a downward spiral before the businesses moved in..? There are many quiet neighborhoods in the city. Leave it alone.

Rj Hub
Rj Hub

who was there first . . . the club or the residents??

Ryan Mackley
Ryan Mackley

Buy up the houses and then let deaf people live there. :)

Daniel Moody
Daniel Moody

These guys are still very loose butt hole!

Bill Reeves
Bill Reeves

Doesn't the city have an ordinance on obsessive loud noise?

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman

Fucking cry babies. You knew what you were getting into when you moved there. Quit your bitching and move.

Tictic Bump
Tictic Bump

Back when Manchester was quite and peaceful... Ohh wait...

Martin Goebel
Martin Goebel

considering the alternative is gunfire like it was 2 years ago... i think the residents should put a cork in it

Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

They probably met by screwing in the bathroom of one of those "clubs"

Steiney
Steiney

Have yet to go to Ready Room but have tickets to see Afghan Whigs show in September...Please don't screw this up for me. I have been waiting forever to see Mr. Dulli and company.

Gina Marciano Mitauer
Gina Marciano Mitauer

That's city living!!! I'm on the club owners side!! They built that area up and then people started moving in around it!!! The clubs saved that neighborhood!!! If they want quiet move to the burbs!!

thenaturalstyles1
thenaturalstyles1

They built their concert venue in a commercially zoned business district. 

It's the sassy queens that rehabbed their home right next door.

michaelm3350
michaelm3350

They built their home before the clubs opened, read the article!


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