At the last Rolla City Council meeting, April 15, Councilman Jimmy Dale Williams told Josh Noe, a young man who wants to be an entrepreneur, that it appeared Noe had “backdoored” his way into the bar business.
From the outside looking in, that is exactly what it appears Noe has pulled on the council and the neighbors of his Fat Cats entertainment center. I think there’s more to it than that, or actually less to it, but first let’s look at the same evidence Councilman Williams is looking at.
Noe, who is renting the building that decades ago housed the Magic Lantern Skating Rink, has spent thousands of dollars to build an entertainment complex that includes an arcade, indoor miniature golf and other stuff to keep families occupied.
He started out with a plan to operate a restaurant along with the recreational activities. Quickly, so quickly it seemed simultaneously, he obtained a liquor license and began holding concerts at which he served alcoholic adult beverages.
Immediately, he had problems with noise seeping out of the building and into the bedrooms of neighbors and their children.
Some of the neighbors, maybe all of them, refer to Fat Cats as a bar.
Noe has appeared several times at city meetings, telling both the council and the Planning and Zoning Commission that he has to serve alcohol and hold concerts to raise money to keep the family activities open.
He is a very sincere young man, who says he wants to offer another set of entertainment choices to Rolla. The Community Development Department, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Rolla City Council and the city administration have been lenient with Noe to help him get his proverbial ducks in a row.
At the April 15 meeting, the council heard the first reading of an ordinance to grant Fat Cats a conditional use permit. There was Noe again, promising sincerely that he was working on alleviating the noise problem and denying that he was operating a bar.
I don’t know how the state liquor inspector allows the continued serving of alcohol when Fat Cats is in a legal foggy bog.
Williams, who never minces words, an admirable quality in my opinion, told Noe that he obviously never had any intention of operating a restaurant, for Fat Cats does not have, and apparently never has had, kitchen equipment on which to prepare meals. It has a microwave.
The neighbors around the area in question spoke at a public hearing. They indicated they don’t want to put the young entrepreneur out of business, but they do want to keep their neighborhoods peaceful, especially their bedrooms. One man pointed out that he gets up early to go to work, and loud music at night blaring into his house keeps him awake.
Page 2 of 2 - Now I’ll tell you what I think is going on here. I don’t think Noe tried to backdoor his way into business. I think he’s just so green that he truly believed he could operate a restaurant with nothing but a microwave. I think he jumped into this endeavor without a bit of research or a solid business plan. I don’t know how he continues to finance his project without that.
I hope he is successful. Rolla needs his business to be successful, and I think that is why the city government is bending over backward to help him. Also, the presence of Nick Barrack as his landlord doesn’t hurt.
I also hope the neighbors will attend the council meeting before the final reading of the conditional use permit ordinance to show the council that they mean business when they say they want the youngster to do well in business BUT they also want their peace and quiet now and in the future. The neighbors need to be concerned about what will happen if noise continues after the permit is granted. What recourse will they have?
Most of you probably aren’t a bit interested in this issue, for it doesn’t affect you directly, but I hope you’ll rouse enough interest to see what the council does in this case, for you never know; something like this, or even worse, might happen in your peaceful and quiet neighborhood.