Whose move? – No meeting over lounge disputeA picture of Hosea Williams, left, and Franklin Morris, right, that hangs in the Morris' Restaurant and Lounge in Kirkwood. File photo by Dan Whisenhunt
Nearly a month after an Atlanta Judge gave the parties in Kirkwood 90 days to resolve a dispute about noise from a local business, there has been no meeting between the two sides.
Maria Guida called the police on April 5 about noise coming from the Morris Restaurant and Lounge and attended the May 8 court hearing. She said she hasn’t been contacted by the owners.
Franklin B. Morris, co-owner of Morris Restaurant and Lounge, said he wasn’t sure which side was supposed to make the first move.
“I guess I’m going to have to,” he said.
The owners of the lounge and their neighbors have been feuding for months about the club’s activities. Morris Restaurant is a historically black-owned business that has been in business on Oakview Road since the 1960′s. The business is owned by the family of the late Franklin Morris, who neighbors say never gave them any trouble. Since his sons – Franklin and Roosevelt – took it over, the restaurant has gotten louder and rowdier, the neighbors say. The owners feel the neighbors are trying to run them out of the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
Morris said he would contact Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong about setting up a meeting between the two sides. He said prior to the court hearing he intended to show up and pay his fine. He pleaded no contest on May 8, but the judge withheld sentencing, telling Morris and the neighbors to return with a written agreement.
“I was willing just to pay the little fine they had agreed to assess on me – $100 – until the District Attorney called me and said you’ve had numerous complaints,” he said.
Morris said he thinks complaints shouldn’t carry the same weight as citations. He said he’s done several things to try and make the lounge’s coexistence with the neighbors easier.
“We had the city to come out and repave the sidewalks where the parking won’t affect their property,” Morris said. “We had parking signs installed (with instructions) as to where you can park every night that we’re open. We put cones out to prohibit people from parking in front of their immediate doors and we extend this as a courtesy and I’ve always extended it as a courtesy to the neighbors when we’re open.”
Things have gotten so contentious even Georgia Power has gotten involved. Morris leases a parking lot owned by the company and the neighbors have complained that he runs an unlicensed junkyard on it.
Mitchell King, region manager for Georgia Power, confirmed the utility company did visit the property. He said the lease agreement with the lounge will remain intact.
“We did a good investigation and were able to see a few issues that we thought could be and needed to be cleaned up and we’ll be notifying them of that,” King said.
Morris said Georgia Power didn’t find evidence to support the allegations.
“It’s just one thing after another … it’s really just one neighbor, it’s not the community,” Morris said. ” … It’s like those people that were in the courtroom (on May 8). Those people don’t live in the proximity of this club. These are people that they gather to come in and support the bogus claim that they have. It’s just, they go from one extreme to the next, you know?”