Krush owners decide to close Sequim restaurant after complaints
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Owners of the Krush Ultra Lounge in Sequim decided to close their restaurant this week. — Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Weary of hearing complaints from neighbors and city officials, Joe McLaughlin has shut down the Krush Ultra Lounge on Old Olympic Highway.

“I’ve got to choose another city, one that wants me,” McLaughlin told the Peninsula Daily News on Tuesday night.

“I’m out of here. Good night and good luck.”

There was no sign Wednesday announcing a closure of the restaurant in Rock Plaza at the roundabout corner of Old Olympic Highway and Sequim-Dungeness Way.

City officials said they were surprised to hear of the closure.

They said they had worked with McLaughlin, who managed and owned the business with partners who lived out of the area, to alleviate concerns some neighbors had told city officials.

“I can tell you, there’s nobody inside the city that has wanted them to go away,” said Councilman Ken Hays, who stepped down from the mayor’s seat Monday.

McLaughlin did not return calls requesting for more information Wednesday.

Krush has drawn attention since opening in April.

Some neighbors have called city staff and council members complaining about loud noise from the restaurant late at night.

“If that contributed to his closing, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Council member Erik Erichsen, who reported to the City Council on Jan. 6 that he had received several calls from the restaurant’s neighbors.

“The people in the neighborhood here are all reasonable people. They’re not people who go off the handle. They’re all reasonable, older people who just enjoy their quiet.”

Chris Hugo, director of community development, said he and other members of the city’s planning department spoke with McLaughlin last Friday about possible overcrowding during the restaurant’s evening events and possible noise ordinance violations.

“If your primary activity is being a restaurant, then it’s probably not going to be so loud that it bothers neighbors, because your patrons won’t want to sit in there and eat,” Hugo said.

Hugo told Erichsen earlier this month he would look at Krush’s operations to see if it was indeed being run like a restaurant as permitted in the neighborhood commercial zone and not like a night club, which is not permitted.

“The zone absolutely allows a restaurant to be there,” Hugo said. “But I know things changed.

“Even the name went from Krush Grill and Lounge to Krush Ultra Lounge. Then I stopped there around lunchtime and noticed they weren’t serving lunch anymore.”

Although the city was reviewing operations at Krush, officials did not take or threaten any action, said Hugo, who added he had written a rave review of Krush on Trip Advisor after eating there in July.

Said Hays: “It might have been a bit of a stretch to call it a restaurant at times, but I really enjoyed the place.”

Police were called to investigate noise complaints from neighbors later Friday night when Krush had a heavy metal night, according to Police Chief Bill Dickinson.

“I know our officers were down there to tell them to turn it down after we got a few complaints,” Dickinson said.

Krush has hosted several events since it opened, including the city’s centennial beard and mustache contest on Memorial Day.

A hip-hop concert Dec. 27 generated a number of calls, as did a burlesque show on New Year’s Eve.

Dickinson said almost all the calls his department received about Krush were about noise.

Prior to opening, Hugo organized a meeting between McLaughlin and his ownership partners and about a dozen neighbors who were concerned about having a night club at the shopping center.

“He said it was going to be a restaurant and they were intending to serve beer and wine with meals,” said Erichsen, who also attended that meeting.

“That seemed to satisfy the neighbors and to fit in with the rules of that zone,” Hugo said.

“I don’t know what happened, but I will say nobody at the city wanted to see the place close.”

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 15. 2014 6:52PM
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