Sushi Rock Gets Live Entertainment Permit, At a Cost

by ARLnow.com November 17, 2010 at 3:51 pm 3,267 22 Comments

Sushi Rock, Arlington’s leather-clad, rock ‘n’ roll take on Japanese cuisine, got the live entertainment permit it wanted from the county board last night, but it came with a restriction the business fought to avoid.

Sushi Rock volunteered for most of the provisions sought by residents of the high-end condos above the restaurant: keeping doors and windows closed during live entertainment, using sound-dampening materials, testing decibel levels in condos, designating a “neigborhood liason,” prohibiting loitering outside the business, picking up trash outside, and so forth.

Owners did not agree, however, to restricting the use of outdoor speakers on the restaurant’s patio. But that’s exactly what happened last night. The board approved the live entertainment permit with a provision that the outdoor speakers be shut off after 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 p.m. on weekends.

Sushi Rock partner Tony Hudgins was incredulous. He said the live entertainment permit would have no bearing on what’s broadcast through the speakers.

“If I’m following the logic… we’re actually being asked to give up what we’re already allowed to do, in order to get a live entertainment license that won’t allow us to broadcast [live performances] outside,” he said.

But two residents asked the board to restrict the use of the speakers.

“If the speakers are allowed to be on outside, I wouldn’t be able to sleep,” said condo owner Marilyn Lythgoe. It’s not clear if she had already been affected by the speakers, which were in use this summer.

Phyllis Bradley lives three stories above Sushi Rock. She also argued against the speakers, even though during a recent sound test, in which the outdoor speakers were in use, she acknowledged that “we did hear a sound, not even a pin drop.”

“If that’s how it’s going to be when they get their permit, I have no objections,” she said. “But I don’t think so.”

Hudgins argued that the board was setting policy that wasn’t backed up by evidence.

“I hope we’re making a decision based on reality and not perception,” he said.

Chairman Jay Fisette was the board’s lone dissenting voice.

“I don’t know why we’d be putting a limit on it, until and unless it’s a problem,” he said, before reluctantly voting for a compromise that pushed the weekend speaker shut-off time from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m.

“To me this location is a little different… than being in the heart of Clarendon,” said board member Mary Hynes. “There are residences in a number of locations relative to this restaurant.”

“It seems to me allowing [outdoor music] until 10:00 isn’t an unreasonable thing given the other concessions that are being made,” agreed board member Chris Zimmerman.

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    Are the Tuesday 6:30pm board meetings open to the public? I know the Saturday 8:30am ones are, but those are more difficult to make.

    • Yes, all board meetings are open to the public (except for the occasional closed session following a board meeting)

  • CourthouseGuy

    I live in the building that Sushi Rock is attached to and only 3 floors up from the music. I welcome some live music during reasonable hours (no later than 1:00 AM)as I think it would make the area much more lively and would be fun to be able to hear some tunes from the balcony. These people need to relax and let them jam.

    • Andrew

      Not everyone stays up to 1 AM.

      • CourthouseGuy

        Tou che….. I think 12 is a good time at least on weekends. You cant complain about lound music at 11:30 on a Friday night. Courthouse is is a youthful area, lets not act like its a retirement community.

        • ClarGirl

          This. I will absolutely ask my neighbors to keep it down on weeknights. However, you can’t live on Wilson or Clarendon Boulevards in the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor and expect to go to bed in silence at 11 pm on weekends. If you live near the bars, expect noise until the bars close or move elsewhere.

          • JamesE

            I wouldn’t expect total silence nor do I get it, but I wouldn’t want large speakers used in bars which create massive amounts of low frequencies that penetrate walls with ease.

          • Suburban Not Urban

            Unless they come to your neighborhood and build a bar next to your previously quiet house.

        • JamesE

          only old people care about hearing loud music in the condo they are currently paying a large mortgage for ! If I lived in that building I would probably go on a murderous rampage if they were blasting crappy live music late into the night.

          • CourthouseGuy

            I live there….no big deal to play music if its off by midnight i dont care how old you are. People in the builgin are mostly 20-30 somethings anyway so they should be able to deal. Better yet, residents in the building should get free sushi and/or drink specials.

          • JamesE

            I’m 29 and it would bother me if done at excessive levels, unless it was a cover of Iron Maiden.

  • Jason S

    I still haven’t been here, yet I pass it every day.

  • Lord Voldemort

    With Bayou Bakery, Sushi Rock, Me Jana, Fire Works…looks like Courthouse is fast becoming THE hippest neighborhood in Arlington. Suck on that Clarendon!

    P.S. My death eaters will get you!

    • Tonia

      Sushi Rock’s location is odd. The previous restaurant (Yaku) did not last. Sushi Rock won’t either.

  • John Smith

    Rock! Rock! Hussies come one come all. its on! Its totally on!

  • KalashniKEV

    I live a building away and wish Sushi Rock would turn off all the music… hopefully the live bands will be better. Other than that I like it though!

    (Also I’m not sure how they make such a big deal over signs and this guy got to set up outdoor speakers in the first place!)

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    Further evidence that the County Board does not lead with logic or evidence in hand, but by whim on many an occasion. But hey, everyone who can’t conceive of doing anything but vote along party lines set us up for more until the next election. Differing opinions and perspectives on this board are sorely needed.

    • Thes

      The vote was not unanimous. Your “argument” is invalid.

  • Stefan Sittig

    If you want complete silence, go live out in the burbs. It’s cheaper and more isolated.

    If you live in Arlington, esp. Rossly/C-house/Clarendon/Ballston corridor, you are going to be hearing loud noises and music from restaurants/bars on weekends.

    I do think asking those establishments to stop at 1am is reasonable on weekends.

    Weeknights is another story–people work. I’d say 11pm or midnight at latest.

    I live in Clarendon—I’ve purchased a large box of ear plugs. It works for me.

    • CourthouseGuy


    • Take it down a notch

      I live in Arlington. There are no restaurants or bars close enough to my home for me to hear at any hour. I think most Arlington residences are not that close to bars and restaurants. Most of Arlington is “the burbs.”

  • The rest of the story

    Let’s compromise. Play the music outside half of the time. Inside the other half. Outside during July,August, November, December, January and February. When played inside protect the ear drums of the staff by stuffing sushi in their ears to be sold at a discount before closing.


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