Billiken's Weathers Noise Complaints To Keep Live Music Going

FREDERICKSBURG, VA — Billiken’s Smokehouse in downtown Fredericksburg is at a crossroads. The owners believe hosting live music is an essential part of their business, but they’ve been met with repeated noise complaints.

Billiken’s opened in 2017, serving barbecue, brunch, and live music. Since June 2021, the restaurant has been the subject of 35 noise complaint calls, the owners told Patch. Authorities determined they violated the noise ordinance on 13 of those occasions.

The current noise ordinance in the City of Fredericksburg prohibits any noise that can be heard more than 200 feet away. Violations of the ordinance are punishable as a class 3 misdemeanor, which could include a $500 fine.

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“In our opinion we do not believe we are at a high decibel [level],” Billiken’s owners Greg, Sharon and Ashlie Shalawylo told Patch over email. “We are aware of the high buildings in close proximity to our restaurant making the sound travel in certain spots more than others. We check sound coming from our establishment multiple times a night while we have entertainment.”

Billiken’s hosts live music and DJ’s on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

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In an open letter to community members, Billiken’s owners wrote that the repeated noise complaints were making it difficult to host live music.

“We have worked tirelessly to resolve this matter and have taken every step possible to reduce the amount of noise transmitted from our entertainers, to no avail,” the owners wrote.

The owners told Patch that they have tried moving the stage three times, used sound blankets, and tried out enclosed tents that are only open on one side.

“We strive to be good neighbors and community members,” the owners wrote in their letter to the community. “We are investing our utmost effort into implementing measures that will help mitigate noise concerns without compromising the vibrant atmosphere that our guests enjoy.

The Shalawylos told Patch that live music is an essential part of downtown Fredericksburg.

“In every growing city, the downtown area has some reasonable nightlife. Not only for revenue purposes but to enhance the vibrating lifestyle,” the Shalawylos told Patch. “Live music and entertainment can play a vital role in enhancing the dining experience and attracting customers to restaurants here, especially in downtown. It contributes to the overall vibrancy and cultural appeal of the city.”

The response to the open letter has been predominantly overwhelming. The letter has reached more than 40,000 people throughout the Fredericksburg area, the restaurant noted. Many community members have taken to social media to offer their support and potential solutions.

Billiken’s owners said they have been in contact with some city council members as they work to find a solution to their noise concerns.

“We believe in a balance, especially during the weekday. But there should be some leniency on the weekend,” the owners said. “We continue to brainstorm, accept advice, listen and do our best as a small and local owned business to accommodate the city.”

In an email to Patch, the Shalawylos emphasized that they are continuing to find solutions.

“Our goal is to strike a balance between providing an enjoyable entertainment experience for our guests and being respectful neighbors,” the owners said. “We have already taken steps to investigate potential solutions, including exploring soundproofing options and engaging in discussions with local authorities and council.”

Billiken’s is still open to ideas on their Facebook page. Though a permanent solution has yet to come, live music will still be on the docket at Billiken’s.

“Together, we believe we can find a resolution that benefits everyone involved,” the owners said. “Thank you for being a part of our journey.”

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