License Board Tables Restaurant’s Requests Till On-Site Visit

SNOW HILL — Protests from a nearby condominium made the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners (BLC) hesitant last week in granting new entertainment and service privileges to a new establishment with a clean record.

The BLC decided to table Bad Monkey Burger Bar’s requests for additional privileges until board members visited the site themselves.

Bad Monkey received an alcoholic beverage license from the county back in February. It is located at 5801 Coastal Highway. At the time, protests from nearby Oasis Condominium persuaded the board to impart some limitations on the new two-story operation, including ceasing both drink and food service at 10 p.m. on the restaurant’s open-air second floor and not allowing patrons in the area, a condition that would also apply to the open-air deck on the first floor. The enclosed first floor could operate as usual past 10 p.m.

Bad Monkey returned last week with the hopes of loosening the collar of restrictions, petitioning the board for amplified background music on the second floor until 10 p.m., service on the second floor till 9:30 p.m. but allowing patrons to remain until 10:45 p.m. Food service, but not alcohol, on the first floor deck until midnight was also sought.

“We hope that our requests are reasonable, and again, I hasten to say, if we do not continue this you are not powerless … we believe that we’ve earned our chance,” Joe Moore, attorney for the applicant, told the BLC.

Bad Monkey has been operating this summer with no issues. However, nearby Oasis condominium representatives did return to protest in anticipation of the issues that might arise, especially if amplified background music, previously not allowed, is permitted on Bad Monkey’s second floor.

Noise is the number one fear for Oasis residents, said Michael Helfrich, president of the condo’s board of directors. That fear extends beyond the noise that may be generated by background music, with the biggest concern being that music will automatically make crowds louder.

“They both interface each other. If the piped in music is present, the crowd noise is inevitably, to some extent, louder,” Helfrich argued. “The crowd noise is what we are concerned about and the piped in music will only increase that.”

Predicting some complaints, Bad Monkey co-owner Kevin Myers organized an ad hoc sound demonstration in July. Speaker volume was turned to maximum, which Moore noted would not be the setting used for anything other than test purposes.

“What the folks that were there heard, and what Mr. Mayne heard, was not what the patrons will hear. It was the maximum,” he said.

Jeff Mayne, inspector for the BLC, and a few Oasis residents were led around the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Mayne admitted Wednesday that he could not hear the music from the parking lot behind Bad Monkey. Tom Edwards, an Oasis resident, also could not hear the music though he had some doubts it really was at maximum volume.

The sound test wasn’t a fair benchmark, according to Helfrich, as it does not incorporate crowd noise or real-life conditions. Neither he nor most of Oasis attended the sound test in July or responded to Myers’ invitation since, which Moore felt was unwarranted, asking that the condo give Bad Monkey a chance.

“There is no testimony whatsoever that has come before you all to say that we haven’t complied fully with what our goal was,” he said.

But Helfrich was adamant that the requests would jeopardize the peace and quiet of Oasis and suggested that all of the issues could be solved if Monkey simply enclosed the second floor. The BLC voted to stay a decision on all of the requests until the on-site restaurant visit and hearing the sound for themselves. They invited all interested members of Oasis to attend as well.