The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Rhythm Splash, Friend or Foe? Depends On Who's Asking!

After hearing a particularly impassioned complaint about big bottomed noise coming from Rhythm Splash, the only real "club" along the Flabenue, the Q decided to put on his other hat as chair of the environmental protection committee of the community board and check it out. Speaking of hats (fedoras), it turns out that Ben Edwards, the prez of the Lefferts Manor Association, knows the owner Richard and offered to set up a meeting for the three of us. Ben came striding down the Flab dressed to the nines as usual, with his trademark chapeau -- I could tell it was him from three blocks away. Anyhoo, twas a bit late for this old man to be out even on a weekend, but technically I was here on business, and I couldn't help thinking what a strange pair we looked as we entered the place.

We were greeted kindly at the door; I scanned the place and found it immediately inviting, not at all like I'd pictured it through the window, where it often appeared exclusive. Exposed brick, a nicely lit bar, the music not too loud but not too soft. If things were always this relaxed and pleasant, I'd find it hard to believe it could draw unwanted attention. If anything, I'd expect the place to be packed most nights, given the dearth of decent bars around here. Much to my surprise (should I have been?) a tableful of four coed young folks of the newcomer variety [were they real young or mid-young? I can't tell anymore. And yes, they were white, so in answer to one reader's query, the place is not "restricted" anymore than by your own mind :) ] were busy chatting, chugging and chuckling. The pretty bartender was all smiles, the few "regulars" were watching a game. For the life of me, I can't imagine why there weren't more than the 10 or so folks there, especially since the place seems destined to attract a diverse and un-thuggy crowd. Well, on regular non-club nights anyway.

So in walks Richard, a sweet Trinidadian who's tried a few tactics to heighten the bar's profile over the past couple years. It became clear within minutes that his heart and head are in the right place...but it's been hard to find the right groove. When he and his partners rely on party promoters to pack the place, things can get out of hand, despite the frisking bouncer. Because it's being run as a DJ party the volume tends to start loud and just get louder as the night wears on, and not all the patrons are known to the owners. A party can run til 4am, and though Richard claims the upstairs neighbors don't complain and have his cell number in case of problems, it's quite clear that all the opening and closing of the front door DOES cause quite a bit of excess urban chaos to sleepers nearby. The irony is that the thick curtains could be shut to contain a lot of the sound, but the cops have asked that they stay drawn so they can easily see inside. Even with the curtain's attenuation, though, smokers are constantly opening the door and spilling onto the sidewalk, and each door opening punches the quiet night like a blaring car alarm. No question it's a quandary, since the volume generally doesn't reach illegal levels when the doors are closed, which would be how the cops would test the decibels. So...what to do? I welcome your really is a question of how to balance the rights of a business vs. the rights of neighbors. Even the decidedly downscale LPT has been struggling to keep its music alive on weekends. (Is karaoke kaput?)

Here's a picture of Richard and Renee standing at the bar. Nice people. Give 'em a try some time. The most you have to lose is the cost of a happy hour drink.

I'm happy to log any complaints through the community board, and they'll go right to the precinct. 311 is a bit less direct, but it works. You can absolutely call 911 if things have become unruly or criminally loud. Or just ask me for Richard's cell phone number, and I suspect he'd rather turn it down than risk a bigger ordeal. He's doing five to six club nights a month, so maybe a schedule would be helpful? I don't know. I'm trying to find a compromise here!

Oh, and yes he IS changing the name of the joint. Probably to The Avenue. I don't think I need to tell you what name the Q would prefer...


girlwithtwopitties said...

I appreciate you doing a first-hand scoping of this joint. I've peered in but never ventured and perhaps, now I will. I think compromise is the name-of-the-game with things like this (and LPT). One of the issues that arises with mixed use ground-level below residential, for sure! If the cops want the curtains open, is there another step the bar could take? Would a curtain at the doorway, to create a foyer, be helpful?
A calendar, for the public would be great. But here's the funny thing, if more neighborhood folks would fill the place up, he wouldn't have to use party promotors which (it sounds like) is when things get out of control. Maybe some sort of re-opening or ridiculous happy hour prices to draw the neighborhood in would be helpful to their business in the long run....
It would be terribly disappointing to have this joint (and LPT) be barred from playing music.

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about the NIMBY attitude of many new neighbors concerning nightlife. Lincoln Park Tavern no longer has live music (and they did have a good run of excellent bands, whatever you think of their hamburgers) or even karaoke due to a squeamish couple upstairs with a baby and a hostile landlord. (What did these tenants think they were in for when they moved above a bar?) A similar attitude seems to be at work in the handwringing about this place. Incidentally, the opening of the front door could be reduced by restricting smoking to the small patio in back. I don`t know if this would help the overall noise problem. Rhthym Splash is a nice place, with cheap tap beer (though they could keep the taps a bit cleaner). I think they still have occasional live music. This neighborhood has so much musical talent, from the denizens of the Jazz Dorm to the various rock luminaries spotting the neighborhood. There should be a good performance space.

The Snob said...

You know your nabe is tough when gunshots and a bullet hole in the sign are construed as "hand wringing."

Anonymous said...

I can't recall right now, but does Rhythm Splash have dark, tinted windows? Having clear glass would make a huge difference in how welcoming the place looks.

Kim said...

FOE. I am someone who lives across the street and have been woken up every Thursday through Sunday night in the middle of the night, because of the opening and closing of the doors, as well as the loud talking and/or screaming that accompanies the smokers. I don't care how nice they are or how good their intentions are to bring a nice bar/lounge to the neighborhood, the bottom line is I lose much needed sleep on the weekends, so as far as I'm concerned, they need to go, sorry. I would like to think that if they care so much about their neighbors, this issue would matter to them. IF the noise problem could be remedied, I would have no problem, but the last several weekends have been hell, and I have had to sleep in my living room because it's quieter than my bedroom. However, my son also gets awaken by the music, and this just makes my life pretty miserable.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for anyone that has to live near that place. Those all night DJ parties are absurdly loud. Crave "Sports Bar and Lounge" near us has those, and we can hear it from halfway down the block. (Fortunately our bedrooms don't face the street.)

With respect to the comment from Anon @ 1:35, I don't think there is a NIMBY attitude in this neighborhood at all. I think people are really tolerant of noise around here -- as long as it is at reasonable times and doesn't run for hours and hours. It is not reasonable at all to run a nightclub blasting loud music until 4am in a residential area. There are plenty of places in the city that are appropriate for a nightclub -- Empire Boulevard comes to mind -- and nightlife in the city will not die if the clubs have to locate themselves in commercial areas.

On that note, I would bet that having all-night DJ parties without a cabaret license would be a violation of the cabaret law:

Anonymous said...

Having lived with lots of noise, I am with Kim. Losing sleep to noise is almost as debilitating as losing sleep to physical pain.

And if Kim and her son are losing sleep? I guarantee you there are dozens more; she is the only one talking about it.

A nice bar and lounge has noise rules and strictly enforces them.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Kim: You have Richard's cell phone, he tells me. Has he been responsive to your calls? I wonder if it might be possible to ask him to come and listen from your apartment during a party so he knows you're experiencing a truly debilitating level of noise. It would then be his decision to ignore or not, with potential remedies of a legal nature. I'd be happy to come with him on such a fact finding mission, if it would not be too weird to open up your home. Perhaps there are others out there who could chime in, particularly if you too are losing sleep. Numbers help make the case.

Anonymous said...

I had a call girl ring living above me. I tried to take them to court and lost. There were several neighbors involved and the superintendent of the building.

The City came to listen to the noise to no avail. There are laws on the books about decibel levels. I believe they are much stronger now so maybe you will fare better.

Ended up moving. By the time Monday came around? I was almost too sick to go to work from sleep deprivation.

I hope things are better this time around.

Kim said...

I have never spoken with Richard, nor have I ever had any contact with him. We wouldn't know each other. Perhaps it's another Kim he is thinking of.

As far as coming to my apartment, unless you and he are going to come and stay overnight in my bedroom, I don't think it's going to work out! The music gets louder throughout the early morning hours, and the door opening/closing is random through the night. 3am-ish seems to be a time I am familiar to waking up to, though I have been woken up at around 6am before and unable to go back to sleep.

I forgot to add that they are not the only ones with the loud music; the Spanish restaurant two doors away is also just as bad, with the music and doors opening, etc. The two together are simply a nightmare.

Now, I am wondering if there's a reason the music needs to be that loud at all? I mean, if it's so loud that I am disturbed across the street, then are the people inside shouting at each other at the top of their lungs? Don't get me wrong, I have been to a club or two in my day, but I swear they had sound proofing on the inside, as well as double doors, etc.

I feel like it should be enough that Richard is aware that the music is too loud. I don't feel like I should have to prove it to him by having him come over to see if it's true. I am not trying to cause trouble or shut him down for no reason. I am all for productive business and growth to our neighborhood, but not at the expense of being disturbed at night. Anyway, if things don't change, I honestly have good air conditioners that drown out a good amount of noise in the warm weather. It's not helpful to me now, but that is the solace I have in the event things stay the same or even worse in the coming months.

RKleege said...

Hey Q, I'd appreciate a mention or three about the Inkwell Cafe, locale of the Jazz @ the Inkwell series which I am constantly pushing people to attend. Can we discuss? There or elsewhere? Our next show is March 14, Emilio Teubal (a really cool piano player) and his band.

Anonymous said...

This device can mask sound as well as an air conditioner.

Anonymous said...

The Inkwell is a great venue to listen to music, and their fried food isn't bad either. I haven't been there in awhile, but my impression is that they don't know how to make drinks for adults. The wines are often sickly sweet, and the kids behind the bar don't know how to make cocktails. Better bartending would bring in more patrons.

Adrian said...

As to cabaret laws....more than a few historians say they were originally implemented to discourage "interracial mingling" in the Harlem clubs and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

This is an old post so likely no one will notice my comment but I'm going to make it anyway.

I've lived just around the corner for 4 years and I've never visited. I've never visited despite the fact that I've often bemoaned not having a good spot to stop for a drink and would love a 'neighborhood bar'. Here are the changes that would draw me in:

1. A more 'daytime' bar atmosphere. Open weekend afternoons and welcoming right after work.
2. When the curtains are open (which has been rare when I've passed), it's just been a couple people seated at the bar, it didn't look like there were sufficient tables and chairs. I want to be comfortable sitting down instead of feeling like I'm shoving in on a private affair.
3. Definitely a website with a calendar and pictures. Let us know what you're all about. Let me know when the drink specials are, is there any bar food, when can I just come and chill.
4. Put out an a-frame sign or something letting me know you're open and if you have a special going or an event coming up.
5. I'm sure it's against code, but I'd love if it were open weekend afternoons with a couple tables and a planter(maybe a couple cool palm trees) just out front, making the front more open and engaging.