A meeting between Oak Park residents and an owner of O'Brien's Irish Pub & Grill appears to have resolved a simmering dispute over noise and security concerns.
Residents of Oak Park, a 75-home development in close proximity to O'Brien's in Oak Park Plaza at the corner of Lumsden Road and Kings Avenue, had complained about loud music on weekends emanating from the pub.
Overflow parking from O'Brien's during big events like St. Patrick's Day was also a major concern for Oak Park residents. As a result, the homeowners association has hired its own security during such events.
Sean Rice, co-owner of O'Brien's, said he first heard the complaints at a contentious public hearing in April where Oak Park residents turned out en masse to protest any new businesses selling alcohol near their homes. As a result, a liquor store and small restaurant saw their applications turned down.
Stunned by the complaints, Rice, who attributes much of O'Brien's success to working with community groups, promised to meet with Oak Park residents and resolve the issue.
"I had no idea these people were impacted by us but when I heard it I didn't feel it was an attack but an opportunity for communication."
Rice, as well as O'Brien's day and night managers and four members of the homeowners association shared a table two weeks ago.
"They agreed to move the live bands so their music would be directed out onto Lumsden (Road) and also to pay for any security we needed during special events like St. Patrick's Day," said Gwen Plyler, secretary of the Oak Park Homeowners Association. "They also agreed to let us know ahead of time if there were any other special events coming up."
Rice also reimbursed the group for security they hired on St. Patrick's Day. O'Brien's also cut a check to La Viva Plaza, a shopping center facing O'Brien's. Some business owners there had also complained of O'Brien's patrons parking on their property during St. Patrick's Day.
"I think we all feel positive about things now," said Plyler, who reports no noise complaints from residents since O'Brien's made the changes.
"The community has supported me for 11 years and I plan to be in Brandon for a while so this was something I wanted to do," Rice said.