Arlington Alfresco extended until November, but village issues warning on noise

  • The Lucky Pickers (Despina Pafralides and Caleb Peters) perform outside Hey Nonny in June on what was the first night of the Arlington Alfresco outdoor dining zone in downtown Arlington Heights. Live music has led to complaints from residents of the nearby Metro Lofts.

      The Lucky Pickers (Despina Pafralides and Caleb Peters) perform outside Hey Nonny in June on what was the first night of the Arlington Alfresco outdoor dining zone in downtown Arlington Heights. Live music has led to complaints from residents of the nearby Metro Lofts. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, June 2020

 
 
Posted8/18/2020 5:30 AM

The ever-popular Arlington Alfresco outdoor dining zone in downtown Arlington Heights will remain in place until Nov. 2 or the first snowfall, whichever comes first, village trustees decided Monday night.

But the village board's unanimous approval also came with a word of caution to at least two local businesses whose primary offering is music: Keep the sound down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Amid growing complaints from residents of the Metro Lofts condo building at 10 S. Dunton Ave., the board gave Village Manager Randy Recklaus the authority to shut down live music at any business if problems become significant. The matter would then come back to the village board for a final decision.

The rules primarily target two businesses that offer live music on Vail Avenue south of Campbell Street: Hey Nonny and Big Shot Piano Lounge.

"I hope they're getting the message because we just can't go on like this," Mayor Tom Hayes said during a lengthy board discussion about downtown residents' noise complaints. "Our residents can't put up with this anymore. You're going to have to change that volume immediately, or we're going to have to change the way you operate your businesses. It's as simple as that."

The outdoor dining initiative that has shut down Vail and Campbell to traffic and allows about a dozen restaurants to expand their patio spaces started June 3 as an economic relief measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. In agreeing to the extension into the fall, the mayor and trustees lauded the program as a success and even suggested it could come back in some form in future summers.

But the board members also told of their personal experiences with the noise levels, some having visited condos of residents to hear it for themselves or listening from restaurant patios all the way down the street.

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"If I had to put up with Frontier Days for the entire summer, I wouldn't have enjoyed it," said Trustee Tom Schwingbeck of the annual five-day summer festival at Recreation Park. "For residents downtown, that's what this Arlington Alfresco has turned into."

The owners of Hey Nonny, the live music venue and gastropub that opened in 2018, say in response to complaints they've been monitoring decibel levels on phones, turned speakers inward, and met with the condo board president and property manager of Metro Lofts.

Co-owner Chip Brooks said music is how the venue gets diners, and without it, the business would be seriously injured.

"We're not running a Frontier Days or anything like it," Brooks said. "We're just trying to save our business."

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