Wallingford’s nightlife has been growing: the addition of The Octopus Bar knits together the SeaMonster Lounge / Iron Bull intersection with the Changes / Murphy’s intersection to create an unbroken chain of after dark entertainment. And it’s certainly the case that they feed off each other: there’s a growing sense of a bar scene.
And now, that’s set to expand even more, as the SeaMonster has taken over the corner space adjoining it, previously occupied by La Boulangerie, and is working on expanding into that space.
Not everybody is happy about this, of course. William recently wrote me:
I was surprised to see that no one so far has commented on the SeaMonster Lounge’s plans for expansion. Those plans include an outside deck like the one across the intersection at the Iron Bull. The Iron Bull’s deck is already a source of loud noise and public drunkeness into the wee hours of morning. On one recent night two Bull patrons raced hotrods around the block; on another, the police were needed to quiet a ruckus on the deck and to rescue a patron who had passed out on the pavement. Now the SeaMonster Lounge proposes to double the fun by building a second deck at this same intersection. I suggest that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! If you agree and wish to protest, make your feelings known to Lt. Roy Woodrow Perkins at the Washington State Liquor Control Board, 253-661-4935 or [email protected].
I reached out to Gerald Simonsen, owner of the Iron Bull and Andrew Nunez, co-owner of the SeaMonster, for a response. Gerald responded:
When I bought the Iron Bull several years ago the previous owner told me there would be a few people in the neighborhood that would complain about any late night noise, but he simply ignored them. He told me that if people do not want to hear bar noises they should not move next to a bar.
While I do agree that people that do not want to hear bar noise should not move next to a bar I do not agree that people with complaints should be ignored. We have had a few complaints and have done our best to respond to them. Normally they have been noise complaints because the back door was open and we rectified it by closing the door.
I also recall someone calling to complain about the noise when the Seahawks beat the 49ERS in a very tight game.
This was at 3 PM on a Sunday.
I told them I was sorry but everyone was rather excited and they would calm down soon. The noise level quickly subsided and all was well.
The only time that I received a complaint that I took the former owners advice and ignored was when we received a complaint that “our” possums were harassing the neighborhood chickens. Indeed, I was completely guilty of not responding as I do not have any possums. And if I did I would be very stern with them about bothering the neighbors chickens. I might even threaten to give them spankings if they bother the neighbors chickens.
I have learned my lesson about ignoring complaints as the offended parties brought dead possums they had killed with a shovel into the bar, slammed them down on the bar and scared the hell out of my bartenders and customers. They then put dead possums with fans blowing the stench of their dead bodies directed at the deck. After these bizarre attacks, I filed a restraining order, went to court and obtained a judgment against them from further harassment.
Another complaint I had was that when people play pool the neighbors can her the balls clacking together and it is very annoying. This was a second hand complaint so I could not address it as I did not have enough details to do anything about it.
So apparently there is someone (perhaps the folks that hate possums) that is displeased with the Iron Bull. Had I heard anything about these complaints I would have done what I could to alleviate them.
I do not know what exactly I could do but if there was any evidence that my patrons were having hot rod races in the neighborhood but I would certainly explain to them that this is a nice neighborhood sports bar and not Arnold’s Dinner from Happy Days and such activity is not encouraged.
I would also have to explain to them that I have absolutely no right to tell them what they can do outside my bar and I also have absolutely no responsibility to prevent them from hot rodding around the neighborhood but I would prefer they did not.
I am rather curious as to what exactly what “raced hotrods around the block” means. And how it was determined they were “two Bull patrons”? Is it possible that these two hot rodders were really coming from the movie theater next door and had been excited but a hot rod film? If that were the case should we try to get the theater closed down?
I am also curious if the author thinks that these hot rodders were doing their hot rodding because the Iron Bull has a deck? And somehow because the hot rodders were influenced by the deck at the Iron Bull to hot rod the SeaMonster should not have a deck? Very confusing to me.
And how could anyone race around the block? I find that when going around the block if someone is coming the other direction I have to pull to the side to let them pass as the streets are very narrow and there is often not room for two cars to pass each other. It is not like we have a race track in Wallingford.
I have talked to my staff about the “police were needed to quiet a ruckus on the deck and to rescue a patron who had passed out on the pavement” and no one knew anything about it. I would guess if the police came in response to a “ruckus on the deck” they would have mentioned it to us. I would think they would have also mentioned it if they had to “rescue” someone they would have mentioned it.
But again, I will point out that we have no control over what people do outside the bar.
If you look at our Yelp reviews most are good but a few are complains about slow service (hard to keep everyone happy when you have 200 hungry sports fans) and complaints about us showing the Bears games rather than the Seahawks (we are the Seattle Bears Bar) but the only one you will see where there is a complaint about how much liquor we serve people is “This place is terrible. Feels like it is ran by church girls who view you as a sinner if you have had more than one beer.” We are very conscious that we are not allowed to over serve people and do what we can to prevent it.
I would suggest:
- If you do not want to hear children laughing and playing with the occasional crying caused by a skinned knee, do not move next to a day care.
- If you do not want to hear church bells, people praying, people singing and the occasional morning over a lost one, do not move next to a church.
- If you do not want to hear cars in the night, do not live in the city.
- If you do not want to see sick people and hear sirens, do not move next to a hospital.
- If you do not want to hear airplanes overhead, do not move next to an airport.
- If you do not want to hear people enjoying themselves and perhaps on occasion a little more bar noise than you like, do not move next to a bar.
You get to choose where you live and must accept the things you like and the things, you do not like about that choice you made. The bar has been here for more than 50 years. I do not recall anyone complaining about anything that has told me they were here before the bar was.
Personally I love the SeaMonster. It is a great place for not so famous bands to have a place to play for an audience. From reading the sign they put up I gather their expansion will allow them to have all ages shows. Sounds like a fine thing to me.
We will make every attempt to be good neighbors but please keep in mind if we do not know about a problem, we cannot fix it. And we can not do anything about the hot rodders.
Andrew was likewise accommodating with a response:
We at the Sea Monster have a well documented history of working with our neighbors to alleviate any problems caused by our establishment. (Ask our immediate neighbors to the east, north and west). It has been a long hard road to profitability, but by working with neighbors we feel we have become a vital source of culture, a safe place for the community to gather and build relationships with young and old alike. We look out for each other in a world with increasing problems.
After almost 11 years in business here, we have become popular! The one or two smokers huddled together outside has grown to 10 or 20 on some nights. We have hired a door person to check ID’s on busier nights, more bartenders and bussers too. Our patrons are our neighbors, they are not trouble makers/criminals.
Over the past 4 or so years we have only received complaints from one woman who moved in across the street and her penthouse apartment windows face out to 45th street.
It’s not the music causing disturbances, it’s the patrons and non patrons outside which poses some difficulty for us to police. Our door person can ask patrons to be quiet and for them to smoke 25ft from the front door, but that is the extent to which we can police an outside crowd.
We have spoken with the police and neighborhood noise task force and they have told us the same thing, the noise created from the live music inside the bar is not at a disturbing decibel level.
In an effort to create less problems for our neighbors we have spent $15,000 on a new heating and air conditioning system that will allow us to keep the doors closed more often in the hot summer months. This has not alleviated the problem of patrons smoking and talking outside.
What can we do?
We are hoping to further diminish this problem by providing an enclosed outside patio on the side of the building for our patrons to gather and smoke instead of out front.
We will always do our best to address any problems that arise from our success, we love our neighborhood and I think our neighborhood loves us too. Our proposed expansion will add many great updates to a dead corner in need of refurbishing.
I own a home a few blocks from the sea Monster, I will have children here and probably die here too. We all have to get along. If you are a neighbor and have concerns please allow us to be good neighbors and work together to solve our problems instead of using the police and liquor board to try and evict us.
Gerald, the owner of the Iron Bull has been great for the neighborhood. I have witnessed the transformation across the street since he purchased the business. Wallingford now has a safe place to enjoy watching sporting events, playing billiards or darts, pinball, etc. I’m sure he has invested many thousand of dollars to create this for our neighbors.
Also, as Gerald pointed out please don’t move in across the street from two bars and start a petition to have them closed down so you can sleep a little better. We are doing our best to contribute the needs of our growing neighborhood, what are you contributing from your penthouse apartment?
I can be reached at [email protected] for anyone wanting to contact me.
Now, I don’t live across the street from a bar, so you can say I don’t know what it’s like, but I do live right across the street from a school (the John Stanford School), and that brings its share of headaches: not only is difficult for my guests to park near my house on weekdays, but I often have trouble getting out of my own driveway when parents are dropping off their kids. It’s not uncommon to come out my door and find a car parked across my driveway as a mom “ducks in just for a moment” to pick up her child. School bus drivers used to leave their cigarette butts on my front stoop while they waited for the kids to load up. I hear the drone of the outdoor PA system making announcements throughout the day.
But ya know what: it’s a school, and that’s good for the neighborhood. I’m not happy about those things, but I’m also not complaining, because I know that some of life’s rain falls on us all, and if that’s the worst I get, I got it pretty good. So sure, I’m OK with that In My BackYard.
And, while the notion that the both SeaMonster and the Iron Bull shrug off responsibility for what the patrons they have drawn to the neighborhood do to the neighborhood, I also agree with the notion that these establishments have been here for a long time. If someone moved in and didn’t know they were moving in across from a bar, that hardly seems like the bar’s fault.
But that’s what I think. What do you think?
(SeaMonster photo by Emmet Anderson.