Faced with a citation and the threat of losing their liquor license for noise violations, the owners of James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy are crowdsourcing to afford costly soundproofing renovations this summer.
Opened in 2011, the North Side bar had no air conditioning upstairs, so owners traditionally kept the windows open and at least one neighbor has repeatedly complained to police. General Manager Kevin Saftner said it will require sealing areas of the three-story, 19th century building's walls and windows and installing electrical lines and air conditioning to cool the room during summer months.
Estimated at $30,000, the project required largely shuttering the upstairs ballroom until repairs take place. All acts were moved or canceled and the bar's 30 employees have had their hours reduced, Saftner said.
"(The ballroom) is a third of our business and it's been cut," he said.
The restaurant and bar is planning to have all the renovations complete by the August 2017 to coincide with the booked performance of a nationally touring act, Grey Area.
Weekly jazz performances by Roger Humphries continue in the downstairs speakeasy, but the room is much smaller and can't support the amount of people that normally attended, he said.
Owners also launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo that as of Friday had accumulated about $5,800.
On Saturday, the ballroom will open for one night to host a silent disco fundraising event in which guests can dance to music chosen by a live DJ through their headphones.
Saftner has also planned live music events on August 10 and 14 in the speakeasy to collect donations.
Although no one who has complained about James Street's noise has ever come forward, Saftner said he feels OK about the situation. Lots of patrons have been very supportive, he said.
"We want to do our part to remain involved in the Pittsburgh music community," Saftner said.