Restaurant and bar owners should police Siesta Village noise problems, SKVA president says

Although many of Siesta's waterfront residents don't have to worry about noise in the Village, residents just off Ocean Boulevard do complain periodically about loud music from bars and restaurants. Photo by Norman Schimmel

Owners of Siesta Village restaurants and bars should cooperate on keeping music within acceptable levels, instead of allowing problems to spur intervention by the Sarasota County Commission, Siesta Key Village Association President Russell Matthes told members during their monthly meeting May 1.

Noise issues are cyclical, Matthes explained to the approximately 20 people present. “We go through this every three or four years.”

When the matter arises, he said, business owners look again at the county noise ordinance, review the special exceptions for music in Siesta Village, “and we monitor the music.”

Regarding the ordinance itself, Matthes said, “Changing (it) isn’t going to happen. I just don’t see it. It’s not going to get any stricter. It can’t.”

Often the Siesta Village noise issues arise after changes in management or the arrival of new businesses, Matthes added. Some of the managers at restaurants in violation of the ordinance are not even aware of the situation until it is brought to their attention, he pointed out.

The Siesta Key Association has spearheaded the latest effort to deal with the problems, he added.

“My suggestion is to communicate with the people who are making the complaints,” Matthes said, as SKA President Catherine Luckner has been doing.

Keith Cipielewski, manager of Siesta Key Oyster Bar, which was the target of complaints during Siesta Fiesta, in mid-April, said Luckner had met with his wife, Beth Owen-Cipielewski, to discuss the matter. People who had complained to county officials about noise in the Village were invited to join them, Cipielewski said, but no one else came to the meeting.

Cipielewski added that SKOB staff members take regular meter readings when music is playing. They have apps on their phones that enable them to do that, he pointed out, and SKOB has its own noise meter.

“We’ve taken out the percussion instruments from the bands,” Cipielewski said, “and pretty much gone to an acoustic type level. … Our managers are on top of it.”

Several restaurants in Siesta Village do have special exceptions from Sarasota County that permit them to have live music after 10 p.m., the deadline set in the ordinance, Matthes said.

For example, the Daiquiri Deck, of which Matthes is co-owner, has a special exception that allows it to have live music until midnight on weekdays and until 1 a.m. on weekends he said. “But we can’t exceed 60 decibels from the emitting line,” he pointed out.

“That’s nothing,” he added of the intensity of sound at that level. “So there are some strict guidelines.”

Those who do violate the ordinance, Matthes said, should not take the attitude that they must fight it. “It’s a battle you can’t win. … I’ve been dealing with it for 18 years.”

Nonetheless, Matthes pointed out, live music in Siesta Village needs to continue, as it  is a draw for the businesses. “Just stay within your guidelines,” he said. “Be responsible with it.”

He added, “I know sometimes these band guys … want to hear themselves sing. … Do your (noise) meter readings at your property line.”

Rami Nehme, owner of Blasé Café, which was the focus of some noise complaints soon after he took over the restaurant last year, told the SKVA members, “Five minutes before 10 o’clock, (the music at Blasé) always stops now.”

However, Nehme said he felt it was unfair that the same businesses seem to be targeted again and again for violating the ordinance, when other establishments  actually are the offending parties.

“We should somehow shift the focus on the other sides of the Village,” he added.

Matthes responded, “As long as commercial and residential (properties) are abutting each other, (noise problems are) going to happen.”

Matthes added, “None of us are going anywhere. The businesses aren’t going anywhere, and the residents aren’t going anywhere. We have to live together. … Let’s just continue to work together and get this behind us.”

Special exceptions vary in Siesta Village

In an interview with The Sarasota News Leader, Matthes pointed out, “I don’t know anybody’s special exception that matches another person’s special exception.”

All of the Siesta Village special exceptions related to the county noise ordinance are available from Sarasota County’s website, he added. Anyone who wishes to review them may do so at

Among them are the following:

• Siesta Key Oyster Bar, 5238 Ocean Blvd.: Special exception granted on Feb. 28, 2001, allows the restaurant to have indoor and outdoor live entertainment until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 p.m. until midnight Fridays and Saturdays and on the eves of national holidays. Entertainment cannot resume until 10 a.m. The sound level cannot exceed 60 decibels, as measured at the property line.

• Captain Curt’s Oyster Bar, 1200 Old Stickney Point Road: Special exception granted Dec. 6, 2000, allows live entertainment from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Entertainment cannot resume until 10 a.m. The sound level is not to exceed 60 decibels, as measured at the property line.

• The Hub Baja Grill, 5148 Ocean Blvd.: Special exception granted on March 24, 1992, allows live entertainment from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. seven days a week. The sound level cannot exceed 85 decibels as measured at the property boundary.