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ZAP OKs live music, alcohol sales at soccer-themed food court

Wednesday, February 23, 2022 by Jonathan Lee

The Zoning and Platting Commission on Feb. 15 recommended allowing live music and additional cocktail lounge space at the Pitch, a food court concept next to Austin FC’s training center.

The Pitch, which opened earlier this month, features an outdoor stage as well as four restaurants and two bars in several repurposed shipping containers. The space at 13000 Harris Ridge Blvd. is part of Karlin Real Estate’s Parmer Austin development. 

Though ZAP recommended that City Council approve both requests, a neighbor and some commissioners had concerns. The applicant seeks to remove a restrictive covenant that bars amplified sound on the site, and the neighbor, Rollie Sidla, who lives within 500 feet of the venue, was worried about hearing live music from his home. 

Richard Suttle, representing the applicant, assured Sidla he won’t be able to hear the music. “The city’s own sound engineer, David Murray, went out there and ran sound checks with the sound turned all the way up … and the sound is not discernible (in the neighborhood),” Suttle said. 

Though Sidla did not dispute the sound engineer’s findings, he was still incredulous. “Depending on atmospheric conditions, sound can travel several miles,” Sidla said. He chided venue operators for installing sound equipment without permission – an example, he said, of “avoid permission upfront and ask for forgiveness later.”

Suttle acknowledged that the venue did things out of order. Terminating the restrictive covenant, he said, would remedy the situation. “We’d like to be legal,” he said. 

Commissioners were satisfied with the sound check but encouraged Sidla to file a complaint with the city if he ever hears sound from the venue. 

Some commissioners were concerned with alcohol sales in a place where kids play soccer. “While those kids are playing at the academy there, how does that work with the cocktail lounge operating?” Commissioner David King asked. 

“I guess it means mom and dad can have a beer while the kids are playing soccer,” Suttle said. “It’s not like a Sixth Street situation.” 

Suttle emphasized that alcohol sales are currently allowed, and that the Pitch has been selling alcohol since it opened. A 6,000-square-foot cocktail lounge is already permitted, but the food court’s owners are asking the city for 1,000 additional square feet of cocktail lounge space because it aligns more closely with the square footage of areas with alcohol sales. 

ZAP recommended both requests unanimously.

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