Jackson Brewery bar, sued for noise, files for bankruptcy

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The owners of Jackson Brewery Bistro Bar filed for bankruptcy Sunday (Feb. 1), a day before they were scheduled to appear in court to address claims …

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The owners of Jackson Brewery Bistro Bar filed for bankruptcy Sunday (Feb. 1), a day before they were scheduled to appear in court to address claims that loud music from their nightclub is damaging their neighbors’ quality of life.

Marlene Sheely, who owns the business with her son, David Sheely, said they tried to work out an agreement with the residents in the days leading up to the hearing that would allow them to remain open as a restaurant and special events venue. But negotiations broke down, leaving them no choice but to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, she said.

“We have to reorganize and find a business plan where we can make enough income to pay our bills and stay viable,” Sheely said. “We can do it if we can have corporate events that are generally no later than 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. But they’re trying to make it so we basically can’t have any music or people past 9 p.m.”

Bill Everitt, a resident of Jackson Brewery, said, “As a unit owner, I believe both parties have been and will continue to work in good faith to reach a settlement agreement.”

The Jackson Brewery Bistro occupies the first two floors on the northern side of the Jackson Brewery building on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. It opened in 2011, operating a restaurant on the first floor and a bar and nightclub on the second floor until 2013, when the New Jax Condominiums Association filed for a preliminary injunction in Civil District Court. The homeowners said that noise from the club was too loud and asked the court to place limits on the bar’s volume of music.

Judge Paulette Irons granted the residents the emergency injunction and, after several contempt of court claims, ordered the club not to exceed 60 decibels. Irons was to consider this week whether to make the injunction permanent, but the case was stayed and moved to federal court after the Sheelys filed for bankruptcy.

Marlene Sheely said they had no choice after being forced to abide by the 60-decibel limit, which is the equivalent of a conversation, background music or the sound of an air-conditioner from 100 feet away, according to charts produced by Purdue University and other sources.

The Sheelys said they ceased operating the nightclub side of their business that occupied nearly 9,000 square feet of their space and canceled all their corporate events through March, cutting into the profit they were set to make during Mardi Gras. They were also hit with an $181,000 legal bill from the homeowner’s association that is due Feb. 15 and are still on the hook for their mortgage payments and $5,909 in monthly condominium fees.

Sheely said if the residents would agree to lift the 60-decibel limit and allow the business to host corporate events, the Jackson Brewery Bistro can succeed in a prime location that has already seen a number of businesses fail, including Planet Hollywood, the Mardi Gras Club and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.

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first published: 2015-02-02 20:26:15