Whose move? – No meeting over lounge dispute

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt June 3, 2014
A picture of Hosea Williams, left, and Franklin Morris, right, that hangs in the Morris' Restaurant and Lounge in Kirkwood.

A picture of Hosea Williams, left, and Franklin Morris, right, that hangs in the Morris’ Restaurant and Lounge in Kirkwood.

Nearly a month after an Atlanta Judge gave the parties in Kirkwood 90 days to resolve a dispute about noise from a local business, there has been no meeting between the two sides.

Maria Guida called the police on April 5 about noise coming from the Morris Restaurant and Lounge and attended the May 8 court hearing. She said she hasn’t been contacted by the owners.

Franklin B. Morris, co-owner of Morris Restaurant and Lounge, said he wasn’t sure which side was supposed to make the first move.

“I guess I’m going to have to,” he said.

The owners of the lounge and their neighbors have been feuding for months about the club’s activities. Morris Restaurant is a historically black-owned business that has been in business on Oakview Road since the 1960′s. The business is owned by the family of the late Franklin Morris, who neighbors say never gave them any trouble. Since his sons – Franklin and Roosevelt – took it over, the restaurant has gotten louder and rowdier, the neighbors say. The owners feel the neighbors are trying to run them out of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.

Morris said he would contact Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong about setting up a meeting between the two sides. He said prior to the court hearing he intended to show up and pay his fine. He pleaded no contest on May 8, but the judge withheld sentencing, telling Morris and the neighbors to return with a written agreement.

“I was willing just to pay the little fine they had agreed to assess on me – $100 – until the District Attorney called me and said you’ve had numerous complaints,” he said.

Morris said he thinks complaints shouldn’t carry the same weight as citations. He said he’s done several things to try and make the lounge’s coexistence with the neighbors easier.

“We had the city to come out and repave the sidewalks where the parking won’t affect their property,” Morris said. “We had parking signs installed (with instructions) as to where you can park every night that we’re open. We put cones out to prohibit people from parking in front of their immediate doors and we extend this as a courtesy and I’ve always extended it as a courtesy to the neighbors when we’re open.”

Things have gotten so contentious even Georgia Power has gotten involved. Morris leases a parking lot owned by the company and the neighbors have complained that he runs an unlicensed junkyard on it.

Mitchell King, region manager for Georgia Power, confirmed the utility company did visit the property. He said the lease agreement with the lounge will remain intact.

“We did a good investigation and were able to see a few issues that we thought could be and needed to be cleaned up and we’ll be notifying them of that,” King said.

Morris said Georgia Power didn’t find evidence to support the allegations.

“It’s just one thing after another … it’s really just one neighbor, it’s not the community,” Morris said. ” … It’s like those people that were in the courtroom (on May 8). Those people don’t live in the proximity of this club. These are people that they gather to come in and support the bogus claim that they have. It’s just, they go from one extreme to the next, you know?”

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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  • Kevin Burke

    Dan- you were at the courthouse that day. If you were paying attention you would recall that the judge clearly instructed Mr. Morris to meet with the neighbors. Your transcribing his comment that “I guess I’m going to have to” is little more than lazy journalism.

    To his claim that we want him gone and given that we acknowledge that he has a legal business, all we have wanted is to enjoy the peace of our own properties. The solution is simple and two-fold….1) turn the volume down so it cannot be heard outside the building (just turn the knob…not that difficult) and 2) that they take some responsibility for their patrons at closing who have a tendency to continue the party into the street. Mr. Morris needs to extend the same level of respect for his neighbors as he expects from us.

    Maybe you should ask Mr. Morris if he would live directly across the street from his business….especially if he had children under three trying to sleep through the night. I doubt he would accept that offer. Maybe his kids would get a kick out of seeing someone urinating in their front yard.

    • I gave both sides an opportunity to comment on this story, and continue to do so. I have to be fair to both parties in this dispute.

  • KWD

    It is absolutely not just “one neighbor”, as Morris said, it is the community that is seriously affected by his poor business ownership. I am appalled at the way this establishment treats it’s neighbors and their lack of care and concern for families that live in Kirkwood. I would challenge anyone who is questioning the negative impact that this place is having on our community to come on down to Oakview on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night between 11:30 PM and 3:30 AM and witness the public drunkenness in the streets, the multiple patrons drinking in their cars and then driving, the fights, incessant car alarms, glass bottle smashing, drug deals, etc. It’s not a pretty sight and it’s downright scary for those of us with children. Imagine trying to sleep in your own home in a residential neighborhood with all of this going on EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND. The owner could take measures to sound proof his business, but he does not. The owner could take measures to turn the bass down so that all of the neighbors don’t have to hear the actual songs being played, but he does not. This guy is not interested in being a member of our community, he is interested in running his business no matter how much it affects the neighbors. Since the family lives in Kirkwood I wonder how they would feel if I decided to pop open a 6-pack in front of their house, blasting music, and then smashing all of the beer bottles in their front yard.

  • iwant2sleep@2amFri.andSat.

    The community is having problems. Not 1 person. I don’t understand why the owners won’t transition to a family-friendly business. Kirkwood restaurants are making $ and selling out on food nightly. Obviously there is a need for more family-friendly restaurants in the area but owners of Morris Lounge appear to not get it.

    • Ben

      The issue really has nothing to do with being family-friendly. They need to be neighbor-friendly. Vinocity ran into the same complaints when they had loud music playing late into the night. They didn’t take the complaints seriously and are now out of business. (Not sure if this was causation or coincidence.)

      It sounds like Morris’s is allowed to disrupt the neighborhood in ways that wouldn’t be acceptable if someone threw a house party. It’s really sad and I feel terrible for the direct neighbors to this place.

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