DocuDrama: Neighbor Claims Noise at Cloister Cafe Has Reduced Her to Tears

Picture 039Dan Kendmey Nancy Schreiber (left) and Katarzyna Swidzinski
review records of their noise complaints.

According to city regulations, noise from a bar should not exceed 42 decibels, which is somewhere between a whisper and a laugh. According to Nancy Schreiber, the noise from the Cloister Cafe is loud enough to shake her walls.

Four years ago, the cafe erected a party tent in the patio beneath Ms. Schreiber’s bedroom window. Since then, she says she has had to endure an escalating barrage of noise over the course of a given night. Around 10 p.m., the noise of the crowd begins to swell. At 11 p.m., the disco lights start flashing on the windowpane. Next comes the music, the singing, and occasional accordion playing. It is channeled through a PA system, which sometimes plays until 4 a.m.

Ms. Schreiber said she had tried running the air conditioner, wearing earplugs, and taking Tylenol PM. On especially loud nights she will blow up an air mattress and sleep on the other end of her apartment. “My neighbor, who is five months pregnant, has called me up at 3 a.m. in tears because of the noise,” she said.

Ms. Schreiber and her neighbor, Katarzyna Swidzinski, recently spread records of their noise complaints over Ms. Schreiber’s kitchen table. “I have a complaint file this thick,” Schreiber said, holding her fingers two inches apart. “I have logged over 25 complaints with 311. They tell me to get in touch with the community board, but the members of the community board tell us to go back to 311.” They said they have also made repeated complaints to the bar’s management. “Once they told me, ‘If you don’t like it, move to the suburbs,’” said Ms. Schreiber.

IMG_8503Dan Kedmey The patio during quieter times.

John Drobenko, manager of the Cloister Cafe, acknowledged that the bar remains open until 3 a.m., but he said he had no knowledge of noise complaints from neighboring residents. “The music plays at this level at all times,” he said, gesturing at the speakers softly playing music in his bar. He suggested the noise was coming from Bull McCabe’s, a bar on St. Mark’s Place. “They always get noise complaints,” he said.

Ms. Schreiber disputed this claim, saying that the outdoor space at Bull McCabe’s was recently shut down. “They always blame it on Bull McCabe’s,” she said.

“If he agreed to close at 11,” Schreiber said (“12,” Swidzinski chimed in), “then I would support him. I just want to get some sleep, and not a Tylenol PM- induced coma on an Aerobed on the other side of my apartment.”

Below, in this latest installment of DocuDrama, see Ms. Schreiber’s e-mails to City Council Member Rosie Mendez and Community Board 3’s District Manager Susan Stetzer, followed by the 311 logs that Ms. Schreiber turned over to The Local.


Cloister Cafe Noise Complaints