pcozzolino@ricentral.com

NARRAGANSETT – New Dragon can begin to host live music outside, the town council unanimously voted Monday night. The decision comes after a public hearing and some debate from council members on amending the Point Judith Road restaurant’s liquor license to include live music both inside and out at certain hours. According to New Dragon, performers will range from small cover/duo bands, solo acoustic guitarists and pop DJs. 

“We aren’t planning on turning it into a nightclub, we want it to stay a restaurant,” New Dragon manager James Lau told the council. “This is just to add the feature of live entertainment throughout the restaurant…We’re going to have this in the background for dinner time and as it turns into the later hours, it’s still going to be all sit down. We’re not going to clear out tables to add a dance floor or anything like that, it’s really just to add to the dining experience.” 

New Dragon has recently completed both interior and exterior renovations, making improvements to its dining rooms and adding a patio seating area. The idea, said Lau, is to rotate musical acts through the restaurant throughout the day and evening hours, and the New Dragon manager stressed the establishment was hoping the council would allow live entertainment on the patio area during lunch hours. The new outside seating at New Dragon was created with the assistance of municipal “Take It Outside” grants, which provided funding to restaurants to expand exterior dining capacity during the pandemic. Recently, Governor Dan McKee signed into law a bill that would allow outdoor seating to continue unheeded by local zoning laws until April of next year. 

Town council president pro tem Susan Cicilline Buonanno asked what would happen should outdoor dining capacities expanded or created during the pandemic be curtailed when that moratorium ends. 

“We would plan on reapplying for it if we can do it for next year too,” said Lau. “But we’re not sure, and no one is sure, what the regulations are yet for next year.” 

Lau was petitioning to be allowed live entertainment throughout the restaurant, including in the patio area, until 8 p.m. Both council president Jesse Pugh and Cicilline Buonanno said they had concerns about live music being played outside in the area that late into the night. 

“I have no issue with the inside entertainment at all, but I am a little bit concerned about the outdoor because I don’t know if there’s ever been live entertainment outside in that area and there’s that apartment complex over there,” said Pugh. “That’s my concern.” 

“I agree,” said Cicilline Buonanno. “I think inside is fine, but there are apartments right behind it, it’s a very tight area. I’m concerned about the residents in that area for outdoor entertainment. I think it’s a little bit of a stretch.” 

Despite some council members’ concerns, councilors Ewa Dzwierzynski and Patrick Murray pushed for the body to grant the restaurant’s request, touting the hardships faced by the food service industry during the course of the pandemic. If the venture proves too loud and the town receives complaints, they reasoned, the council could revisit the issue. 

“I know it’s been a tough time for the small business community so I would support any opportunities business owners come up with to make up for that,” said Dzwierzysnki. 

“I see no reason putting any type of restrictions,” said Murray. “If anything, the music will drown out Point Judith Road. I say let them do what they want within reason and if someone complains we can pull the plug.” 

Pugh then went to the public for comment. 

“I just don’t visualize intense rock n roll music out there during lunchtime,” said resident Stanley Wojchiechowski. “Unless we’re getting into 10 or 11 o’clock at night, I don’t see the problem here. I would like to give this guy as much leeway as possible. Review it next year if there’s a problem. I don’t see family houses that will be affected. You have the apartment complex, I understand that. But if it gets too loud, then we’ll do something. But we should grant businesses some flexibility.” 

“Let’s rally behind the businesses and support this request,” said resident Al Alba.

Others said the opportunity to perform live music at a nearby venue would help strengthen and bolster the local musician scene. 

After the reasoning from Dzwierzynski and Murray, along with testimony from the public, the council seemed to come to consensus to allow music at the establishment, including on the patio area, until 8 p.m. Though Cicilline Buonanno still noted her concerns, she said she wanted to support local business and ended up voting in the affirmative. The final decision was unanimous. 

Though a relatively small item for the council, the debate amongst the group, which was convening its first in-person meeting since March of last year, represented a stark contrast from the conflicts and controversies that have dominated local political discourse in recent years under previous leadership. Councilors listened to each other, were respectful and came to a consensus after listening to public testimony despite initial disagreement.  

After the vote, many wished Lau luck, and the town hall’s assembly room congratulated the decision with brief applause.

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(1) comment

leftyrite

Win over the people in the apartment buildings. Serenade them. Serenade the street. You'll do just fine. Keep Romanticism alive. And, remember, your Oldies like their goodies.

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