Downtime pulls plug on school-night rock

The bar will no longer play loud music on weeknights due to complaints by Dinkydome Lofts residents living above.

Freez, right, and DJ Frey perform at Downtime Bar and Grill in Dinkytown on Saturday. Downtime will reduce its late-night music performances because of their impact on new renters in the Dinkydome building.

Joe Michaud-Scorza

Freez, right, and DJ Frey perform at Downtime Bar and Grill in Dinkytown on Saturday. Downtime will reduce its late-night music performances because of their impact on new renters in the Dinkydome building.

Jennifer Bissell

In response to noise complaints from residents at Dinkydome Lofts, Downtime Bar and Grill will no longer be playing loud rock shows on weeknights.

“WeâÄôd like to maintain a good relationship with our landlord,” Downtime general manager Christopher Shaffner said. “[The residents] can feel and hear the music.”

Since the bar had its last rock show Oct. 7, it has seen a lull in business, especially with the absence of its two house bands playing Thursday and Sunday nights, which regularly pulled in 70 to 100 people each performance.

Now the bar will be looking for quieter weeknight acts, trying out acoustic bands, comedy nights, trivia games and possibly more 18-plus shows to keep the noise levels down.

It will also be offering menu specials such as buffalo wings for 30 cents and half-price appetizers to entice more customers.

Downtime has sat on the street level of the Dinkydome for the past four years, playing host to a variety of music genres âÄî funk, jazz, rock, electronic, hip hop and blue grass âÄî most nights of the week.

The Dinkydome Lofts, along with the adjacent Sydney Hall complex, opened in September. Before then, the Dinkydome had smaller restaurants and shops that closed at night.

“Now that the building is occupied by residents, we asked them to stop having music, and theyâÄôve agreed,” said Kelly Doran of Doran Companies, which owns the apartment complex. “I mean, if you lived above it you wonâÄôt want music playing at 2 oâÄôclock in the morning.”

Doran also said DowntimeâÄôs lease never allowed the bar to have live music, though they have played music anyway.

“ThereâÄôs lots of restaurants and bars that donâÄôt have bands,” Doran said. “IâÄôm sure that thereâÄôs some way to make it work.”

Downtime owner Bill Nicklow said he wasnâÄôt worried about adjusting the acts, noting that there are just as many people who donâÄôt like loud music as those who do.

“Hopefully the people who avoided us because of the loud music will come and find us,” Nicklow said. “WeâÄôre in the people-pleasing business, so we learn [how] to please our customers, and thatâÄôs how we stay in business.”

While Nicklow said he was optimistic about the future, he acknowledged that business may continue to be slow while the bar makes its transition.

“Some of the things we have built up over time will have to change,” Shaffner said. “We think we can bring different âÄònightsâÄô back, but it takes time.”

“Anytime you make a change, it takes time to get people to catch on or get it filled back up,” Shaffner said, adding that it can take a new house band six months to gain a following.

Despite the more recent loss of patrons, Nicklow said the bar doesnâÄôt plan to leave its location.

“WeâÄôre happy where we are,” Nicklow said. “We got about 200, 300 people living above us, and the sooner they come and try us out, I think theyâÄôre gonnaâÄô like what they see.”

Dinkytown Business Association president Skott Johnson said the bar would be able to adjust to its new scheduling, but added that the association has concerns about small businesses being able to stay on that block.

“ItâÄôs not really in a good price ranges for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Johnson said. “Of all the small businesses that were in the Dinkydome and on that block, I believe Erbert and GerbertâÄôs was the only one able to return.”

“For businesses, itâÄôs always better to have more people living in the area, so thatâÄôs a positive thing. But now there are neighbors living next door to bars and businesses that have [already] been here,” Johnson said. “ThereâÄôs going to have to be a few changes, I guess.”