Council action over noise 'ridiculous' - chef

KEEPING ON: Jonny Schwass says the restaurant is within its rights to play music of an afternoon.
KEEPING ON: Jonny Schwass says the restaurant is within its rights to play music of an afternoon.

A high-profile Christchurch chef is bemused by a "ridiculous" city council noise complaint notice that interrupted his Sunday afternoon live music session.

Jonny Schwass' Harlequin Public House was served a notice by the Christchurch City Council at 4.20pm yesterday during its Sunday Players set.

While it came as a surprise to Schwass, he told The Press he also considered it a badge of honour.

"I was a bit surprised, but it was kind of a bit cool, too.

"Not many places can get noise control to come down on a Sunday afternoon."

Schwass was told there had been "a number of complaints" about the restaurant's live music session, held weekly from 2pm until 6pm and is in its third week.

The musicians had been on the deck so most of the volume was projected onto the street and busy intersection, and not to nearby businesses, Schwass said.

He described the music as a "relaxed, chilled sort of vibe".

"It's not death metal Sundays."

Concerns were raised earlier in the year about the "confused" mixed-use zoning regulations and the need to amend noise levels in the area.

The nearby Victoria St entertainment precinct had its noise levels raised as a result of the amended Central City Plan.

After the visit from noise control, many Harlequin Public House customers voiced opinions they thought the telling-off was "ridiculous", Schwass said. It also raised attention among the bar's online fans.

The scolding had made him almost "second guess what we do to build business".

"I thought about it a bit afterwards and thought it was a bit ridiculous. We're a restaurant - we don't have queues of drunk people falling out on the street at all hours of the morning."

Schwass said the complaint would do little to deter the sessions, which were introduced to "change the mood" of the Sunday afternoon dining experience.

"We aren't going to stop, we're going to keep on. We're more than within our legal rights to have people sitting on a deck listening to some music on an afternoon."

The council was unable to respond when contacted yesterday.

The Press