Sticky Rice hit with noise lawsuit

Samantha Foster
Spectrum Editor

Sticky Rice is well-known to patrons as a hot spot for sushi, karaoke and tater tots, but the Richmond bar is known for something else by one of its neighbors: noise.

The bar will soon be going to court over a lawsuit regarding noise complaints from a resident living 40 yards from the restaurant. William Graeter, a Richmond resident who has lived at his address near the restaurant and bar on Main Street for about eight years, filed a lawsuit against Sticky Rice in December.

The case, William Graeter v. Gumbo’s Creole Cafe, L.C., Sticky Rice (“Sticky Rice”), focuses on the noise from Sticky Rice’s speakers, which Graeter said disrupts his home life, mostly between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. or later.

Sticky Rice is located in an urban business district, meaning that the zoning ordinance requires that no music or public address system should be heard beyond the business’s building or premises. Because the speakers from Sticky Rice can be heard in Graeter’s home, the ordinance has been violated.

According to a statement from Graeter’s lawyer, Bryan Streeter, Graeter has been able to hear the music coming from Sticky Rice in his house with the doors and windows closed for the past year.

Streeter said Graeter has spoken to Sticky Rice management about the noise before, but he claims that all solutions were “ignored or abandoned.” The noise has adversely affected his mental and physical health by keeping him awake at night and forcing him to sleep elsewhere, according to the statement.

For Graeter, the noise coming from Sticky Rice is a pressing concern. But other local residents do not see the noise as much of an issue in their day-to-day lives — or, if they do, they are willing to live with it.

“I knew it was a gamble moving into a house right next to a bar and across from Sticky Rice,” said VCU graphic design major Isabel Rich, who also lives nearby. “For example, every Tuesday is karaoke night and I swear it sounds like the singers are in my bedroom with me. But like I said, I knew what I was getting myself into. My friends … will sometimes complain about the noise level, but I think my roommates and I have learned to block it out to a certain extent.”

Rich also sees the noise as a side effect of Sticky Rice being a popular venue for students and Richmonders to spend their evenings.

“Sticky Rice is a place to listen to loud music and have a raucous time. It’s supposed to be loud. That’s their thing,” Rich said. “It’s a noisy street regardless of the Sticky Rice patrons. It’s called ‘Main Street’ for a reason.”

Sticky Rice management chose not to comment on the lawsuit. According to Streeter, the restaurant had not taken legal action at press time.

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