Council seeks action as neighbors complain about The Duke bar

Council seeks action as neighbors complain about The Duke bar

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Neighbors of the Duke Kitchen & Spirits, opened at 1839 Smith St. earlier this year, say the restaurant and bar is having a negative impact on their daily lives.

Resident Katherine Feist, who purchased a home across the street and moved in in February, said she was unaware at the time that this was going to be a bar, thinking it was a grocery market. Feist, at the Sept. 3 Town Council meeting, brought a petition signed by 15 or so neighbors asking for either the restaurant to be closed or that significant steps be made toward improvement.

According to Feist, who was the only neighbor to attend the meeting, she and those around her are dealing with trespassing on their properties, loud music coming from open doors, people turning around in their driveways, and screaming and shouting late at night. She said she even had her car smashed, though there were no witnesses to the incident.

“The noise level is just very inconvenient for everyone,” she said.

She said it’s important to celebrate new businesses when they come in, but she asked that the council reconsider its licenses granted to The Duke or require a number of action steps, including closing at a more reasonable 11 p.m. instead of 1 a.m., keeping doors closed around the clock, adding video cameras to make surrounding properties more secure, and adding signs stating residential parking only on the street “so we’re not disturbed.”

Peter Pimentel, managing partner of The Duke, told the council these complaints came as a shock to the owners. He said police reports submitted to town officials previously and reviewed last month came from residents who “didn’t want a neighborhood bar and grill in their backyard,” but denied that there is screaming and yelling. Pimentel said the restaurant puts out cones for safety and works to keep the area clean.

“We try to be very neighborly,” he said.

Asked by Councilor Manny Giusti about doors being left open, Pimentel said there was a problem with the building’s air conditioning, as the former grocery store here had open air coolers and didn’t need the same capacity, but that situation has now been resolved. He said the restaurant is happy to conform and make sure doors are shut.

Entertainment at The Duke comes in the form of a jukebox, said Pimentel, and he recently learned that the business might not even need a license for that.

Councilor Ken Amoriggi said he wants business to be able to run, but also wants to protect neighbors. He asked if Pimentel was willing to take action, and Pimentel responded yes.

Councilor Mario Martone said one condition easily remedied, particularly as it gets colder, is to keep the door closed, as open doors make noise seem so much worse.

Council President Dino Autiello said the business owners should see what they can and can’t do to address residents’ concerns and come back for a review next month to “see how it’s working out with the neighborhood.”

The suggestion of adding resident-only parking on Gainer Avenue is one officials can look at in the meantime, said Autiello, and the full council sent that matter to its ordinance subcommittee for consideration.