Langley pub draws a crowd – of complaints

LANGLEY — The city’s hottest nightspot is proving to be a bit too popular for neighbors of the bustling business.

Tension between Mo’s Pub & Eatery and several residents who live near the restaurant has grown since Mo’s opened last April. Though the owners of the business have tried to solve some of the noise and parking problems that have irritated neighbors since the British-style pub opened its doors, some who live nearby say Mo’s is a bad fit for the Second Street neighborhood.

Kay Lagerquist, who owns a home next to the restaurant, told the city council at its meeting Monday that the business is violating city regulations.

“Our city code clearly states you can’t have a cocktail lounge or a bar next to a residence,” she said. “We currently have that situation.”

Mo’s is located just steps from the downtown, and is owned by Maureen Cooke, who has had a string of businesses — including an upscale restaurant and a take-out burger joint — at the location for more than a decade. The pub is widely acknowledged as one of the city’s premier success stories during the current economic downturn, and has filled a niche left vacant by the closure of the Dog House Tavern and the Edgecliff Restaurant in recent years.

Lagerquist acknowledged the popularity of Mo’s, but also told city officials that the business was making the neighborhood into a commercial corridor and was hurting the value of her property.

“Maureen has done a fabulous job of creating this establishment that has brought lots of revenue to the town, excitement, interest … However, it has impacted our neighborhood significantly,” she said.

“It is not easy to sell your house at the same value it was when you have to sell to people who know that you have a tavern or cocktail lounge next door,” Lagerquist said.

She said a neighbor had tried to sell, but the sale had been turned down because it was close to Mo’s.

Lagerquist’s complaints came as the city council was set to renew Mo’s liquor license, and followed an eight-page letter she sent to Langley officials Friday.

In the letter, Lagerquist complained about noisy customers who were leaving Mo’s at closing time and “loud, drunken behavior.”

“During the summer, it feels like Choochokam every weekend,” she wrote.

Lagerquist also raised concerns about delivery trucks, patrons parking near the business, and customers who were violating the state law against smoking within 25 feet of public places.

City officials said Mo’s was not in violation of the city code, though, and said they had been trying to resolve any problems that have popped up since the pub opened.

Director of Community Planning Jeff Arango said the city had offered to control parking near the business by adopting resident-only parking zones on Second Street.

“It does come with a little bit of inconvenience, particularly for visitors coming to see people who live along Second Street,” Arango acknowledged, adding that residents weren’t interested in the idea.

Arango said the great success of the business had resulted in unintended consequences, but a long-term solution could be made by changing the regulations in the city code for restaurants that have bars.

Mayor Larry Kwarsick said the problems were regrettable, but added that city staff would continue to review what could be done.

“Jeff and I are going to take a look at what we can do, not only to the code so that we don’t replicate those kinds of problems in the future, and look for ways to mitigate impacts that have occurred,” he said.

Cooke, the owner of Mo’s, has tried to work with neighbors on their concerns, but some have refused to meet with her.

The pub has repeatedly told its customers to park in nearby parking lots, and not on the street near the business, and closed part of its patio section to limit the noise from people dining outside.

Mo’s also cut back on hosting musical groups at the pub, clamped down on smokers, and told its employees not to dump garbage or bottles at night.

Kwarsick reminded Lagerquist of the efforts that Cooke has made to address the problems.

“She was very cooperative in terms of dealing with music, and times of music, and outdoor seating. There has been some give-and-take,” he said.

Even so, Kwarsick said the city would continue to review additional steps, and asked council members to work with staff, the business and neighbors on their concerns.

City officials approved a renewal of the liquor license for Mo’s — Councilman Bruce Allen, an employee at Mo’s, left the council meeting when the topic came up — and also extended liquor licenses for the Star Store and the Inn at Langley.