'All live music has been canceled indefinitely': Zorbaz sanctioned by Detroit Lakes city council

Following a Tuesday public hearing about repeated noise complaint violations at Detroit Lakes' Zorbaz restaurant, the city council took action, issuing a 3-day suspension of the popular local hangout's 2 a.m. liquor license -- but the establishme...
The "epic, awezome timez" promised to Zorbaz patrons as they walk inside the front entrance will be a lot quieter in future, as the business will no longer be offering live music. (Meagan Pittelko/Tribune)

Following a Tuesday public hearing about repeated noise complaint violations at Detroit Lakes' Zorbaz restaurant, the city council took action, issuing a 3-day suspension of the popular local hangout's 2 a.m. liquor license - but the establishment's management team says the consequences will be far less temporary.

"All of our live music has been canceled indefinitely," said Zorbaz owner Cole Hanson in a telephone interview. "It's going to be impossible for us to properly host live music going forward, given the [city noise] ordinance as it's currently written and currently being enforced."

City Administrator Kelcey Klemm said the council was prompted to take action after learning of several noise complaints at Zorbaz that had been investigated by the police department this summer.

"At the hearing, we presented three different noise violations that the police department had responded to," said Klemm. "The council issued a finding that Zorbaz did, in fact, violate the noise ordinance on those three dates (June 20, Aug. 20 and Aug. 27), and they issued a sanction against them."

Klemm added that the council opted to suspend Zorbaz' 2 a.m. liquor license for three days - one day for each of the three violations - with the suspension starting this past Thursday, Sept. 14 and ending on Saturday, Sept. 16.

"They can't serve liquor after 1 a.m. on each of those three days," he explained.

Though the action was temporary, Klemm also noted that the council had warned, "further violations could lead to further enforcement actions."

He also noted that any sanctions issued by the council against the business would also be taken into account when Zorbaz applied for future noise variance permits, as they typically have done every year for events such as live music or dances.

"At the end of the day, the whole purpose of this enforcement action was to try to get them (Zorbaz) to comply with the ordinance in the future," Klemm added. "That's what everyone wants here."

Hanson said that he and his local operating partner, Tate Jansen, had hoped the business's long history and good standing in the community - the bar and restaurant establishment has been located across from Detroit Lakes' city beach since 1969, and the business has been a large contributor to local charities and community events - might have prompted the council to be a bit more lenient with regard to taking punitive action. They were dismayed to learn this was not the case.

"We're extremely disappointed," he added. "We understand the intent of the city's noise ordinance, and we respect it... my operating partner and I work constantly to adhere to it. "We had been programming our post-dinner entertainment (i.e., live music) the exact same way since 2009," he added, noting that it's only been recently that the city has chosen to "change its interpretation" of the noise ordinance.

"What we asked of the council was patience as we adjust to the new enforcement of the ordinance," he added. "We were hopeful, considering the credibility we have, and we feel that we've earned, that they would be understanding... the city council viewed otherwise, and chose to punish us rather than partner with us.

"We understand our responsibilities, and it's incredibly important to us to be great neighbors, and also compassionate and contributing corporate citizens of this community," Hanson added, noting that both he and Jansen were lifelong residents of Detroit Lakes, who had chosen to raise their families here as well. "We're not some rogue operation that behaves recklessly. There's no one that cares more deeply about Detroit Lakes, and wanting to be a fantastic neighbor and contributor [to it], than us. We don't know why the city council views us with such disdain and contempt.

"We'll still work hard every single day to be a great hangout in Detroit Lakes, but live music will no longer be a part of that and we're incredibly disappointed," he concluded.