The Problem With Late-Night Bocce

I’m giving this comment its own thread because it’s a great example of the ongoing balancing act required to create and manage a successful city.

Sab writes in…

I wish I could like Leon’s. Unfortunately, I live across from it. Not that long ago, I enjoyed sipping tea on my balcony as the sun set over downtown, and falling asleep with cool breeze in from the open windows. Then Leon’s.

Now, I listen to drunk and exceptionally loud people whistle, scream, and cheer every time they throw a ball at that outside game. I’m sure it’s fun, and it looks like a hip, interesting place. But it is SOOOO loud, and it’s open until 1am every single weeknight. I try and try to just ignore it, and tell myself I should just get used to the sounds of people having a good time. But while loud conversation from an outside-seating restaurant can fade into background noise, the sudden screams and hoots from the game played outside are too sporadic. It’s like having a sporting event with drunk college kids going on outside your bedroom window every single night until 1. I had to buy earplugs, and I am not exaggerating when I say it might just cause me to move.

Only in Decatur.  Where else in Georgia are people being kept up at night by drunken bocce players?!

Ultimately I think its in Sab’s best interest to talk with the owners or if he/she wants, the city, about this issue. I may be wrong, but I think this issue is easily resolved.  The folks at Leon’s could just take the bocce balls in at 10pm.  Its not like people come to Leon’s purely for some late night bocce action.

88 thoughts on “The Problem With Late-Night Bocce”

  1. Having spent a lot of time in the oh so hip city of Montreal I can tell you that street noise is a problem even if they’re not playing sports.

    That’s one of the reasons they separated commercial from residential in the first place. So people that wanted to could get some sleep.

  2. If people want to live seperately from commercial, in a suburban environment, then our city, and the Atlanta metro area, has more than enough options for them. But there are plenty of people that also want to live in an urban envionment and are willing to put up with some of thing things that go with that, like noise. People should be given the option of both, and make the decisions that are right for them, and we shouldn’t exclude either choice from our zoning and land use scheme.

    I certainly feel for this guy and his situation and there are probably ordinances in place that would deal with noise levels after a certain hour that could be enforced. Maybe talking with the city and the business owner they would be able to reach some sort of agreement. However, ultimately, this person lives in the heart of a downtown commercial area – you can’t really expect to fall asleep at night with the windows open listening to the crickets chirp.

  3. I do feel for this person, but if you’re looking for beautiful sunsets and nothing but quiet breezes when you sleep with the window open, why are you living downtown?

  4. Has anyone talked to Dave, Tom or Mike at Leon’s? These guys strike me as exceptionally responsive to their community. They’ve told me that Bocce was an afterthought. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d agree to put the balls away at sunset, or some other reasonable arrangement.

  5. What about the lost revenue from bocce ball players from 10 and after? I hear that bocce ball players don’t start really drinking until the clock chimes double digits.

    DM is your simple solution to tis quandary too facile?

  6. If this is the biggest complaint going on in our City, then we’re doing ok.

    I know this is not the biggest complaint- just trying to make a point.

    Decaturmetro, please keep up with this. What I am interested in is how the issue is resolved. I would hope that a conversation with Dave/Tom/Mike would result in a compromise. If this is truly a problem, then there surely are more people feeling the same thing. Even Chastain has a strict cut-off for the concerts. Maybe cutting off the court at midnight or so would be OK.

    Then again, you’ve got people drinking outside at that corner. It’s going to be loud on nice evenings; bocce or not.

  7. Yeah, after I wrote “go see Lyn” I realized that going directly to the BSP boys might be a better suggested first step. But at the same time, I guess I assumed that that was the most obvious course of action and therefore Sab wasn’t comfortable with it. The city could act as a intermediary if need be.

    Brad, when I think of a clever response, I’ll get back to ya.

    MC, I’ll make sure to follow up.

  8. You can request enforcement of certain noise ordinances between 10 PM and 7 AM and others (such as yelling) between 11 PM and 7 AM. Visit this page to view the current codes:

    As an aside, the Belgian game at Leon’s is called either pétanque or boules; bocce is Italian and has slightly different rules (more like bowling, less like horseshoes).

  9. Nancy writes: “You can’t really expect to fall asleep at night with the windows open listening to the crickets chirp.”

    Unless Sab is a chronic complainer, he/she could and DID expect to fall asleep with the windows open, etc., according to the original message.

    I don’t mean to be flip to Nancy or to anyone else. I understand that people do make certain sacrifices when they decide to live intown, but it sounds like this person can tie the change directly to this one thing.

    I think the 10 p.m. last call for Bocce suggestion is a good one.

    On a slightly different note, I ate at Leon’s one night and was almost overwhelmed by its popularity. I think it’s a great place but I was surprised how packed it was midweek when I went (in an area with an already high number of great spots). They must offer a combination of things that can’t be found somewhere else.

  10. My point was, given where he chose to live, that was an unrealisic expectation, unless you expected that prime corner spot to remain an underperforming antique store forever, which was not realistic either – I’m sure that Leon’s has generated more sales tax revenue in 3 months than Rue de Leon did in 3 years.

    In any event, doesn’t Java Monkey have live music all the time too, sometimes late at night?

  11. Sorry for the bad link. I actually used their “link to this page” option, but apparently it still contained a session ID. Weird.

  12. I happen to think that I don’t feel too sorry for Sab. I love Decatur. I love living here.


    When you purchase a condo SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY, you must set your expectations correctly for possibility of CHANGE.

    Sounds like Sab thought the status quo was forever.

    Now….I think 10PM is too early. Sab, what time do you drink your tea? 🙂

  13. Wow, the responses have been a surprise to me.
    I had thought Decatur was more of a “family / community / can’t we all get along” kinda place and less of a “Buckhead / party all night / cruising, puking, and screaming ’till all hours” kinda place.
    If I had moved in with the commonly perceived first expectation and gotten the second, I’d be a little disappointed too.
    And really, when did Decatur start selling out its charm to whoever could bring in the most tax revenue? Maybe we can get a “Love Shack” into one of the empty store fronts?

  14. Decatur IS a pretty get-along place. This is a handful of rowdy kids pitching a ball behind a bar with the pursuant cheers and jeers – to read some of these replies, you’d think Spinal Tap was playing a set every night (because these amplifiers go to eleven, see?)

    Also, Decatur totally needs a classy upscale sex shop, run by some crazy awesome feminist types. That’d be, well, the most Decatur-y thing ever.

  15. This whole issue reminds me of a year ago when the people living in the “Old Decatur Historic District” were fighting a developer that wanted to build a high-end (prices $250 – 1 mil) condo development over on the corner of Hilyer Place and E. Howard streets. At one of the Planning Commission meetings, a steady stream of people that live there gave various reasons why that they were against the place being built. One in particular was a lady that said – “I’m worried about my kids that are playing in the street getting hit by a car that would result from the increased traffic.” She thought more traffic would be generated by such a development which was proven false. My only thought was, lady – you are living in a major metropolitan area – if you want little Johnny and Susy to play in the street – you need to move to the country. The people living in that neighborhood successfully fought the developer, and so now the lot just sits there vacant, and there probably now won’t be another developer that wants to touch that area.

  16. You know, I think having a place like Leon’s in the heart of our downtown area IS what makes Decatur a charming place. Without the Brick Store owners coming into town and taking a risk on downtown Decatur, we would’t have the organically grown, bustling, successful downtown area that we have today. How charming is a run down building in the heart of our downtown with an underperforming buisiness that closes at 6PM? Wouldn’t you rather have a successful business where locals and people from the surrounding area obviously like to go?

    And if you think that I was trying to say that Decatur should “sell out its charm” to whoever brings in the most sales tax revenue, you are obviously reading something into my comments that are not there or are intentionally trying to misstate my comments. Of course not. My point with the sales tax revenue is to demonstrate that Leon’s is actually providing something that people want and the previous store there was not. But maybe you want to go back to the sleepy, dying downtown area that we were 30 years ago.

    The Brick Store owners and other local business owners that provide a unique product and services that Decaturites want and enjoy are what makes Decatur a great place to live. If you want a nice, quiet, peaceful, suburban envioronment, then I can show a nice suburban community to live in where you won’t have to worry about drunken bocce players at 10 o’clock.

  17. Nancy, I understand your argument to a point. But I think you’re over-exaggerating the complaint.

    Sab was pretty clear that they really didn’t have a problem with general street noise, which assumedly includes noise from the MARTA station, music from Java Monkey and whatnot. The issue is the jolting yells of bocce players. Those loud, sudden noises that would certainly wake me up. (Maybe those near the railroad tracks could provide some advice)

    Couple this with the fact that this isn’t an establishment that exists purely to profit off of bocce, and I feel like a little give by the Leon’s folks may be in order.

  18. Wonder if anybody else in the building has a problem with the noise. Or is it just one guy or girl. I mean making a lot of people not have fun or BSP guys make less money seems like a stretch for just one persons problem.
    Unless he’s a banker of course. In that case nothing is too good.

  19. Why not just convert it to a patio where folks can sit and eat/drink? Then there might still be noise, but it wouldn’t be the sudden shouts that appear to be the problem.

    Sap should think up something to do to battle back. Maybe he/she could put up some really offensive over-sized picture – like maybe a giant portrait of Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin every time the noise gets out of hand. It would drive everyone off of the pentanque court.

    But then again.. it might make them just drink and holler more so it could backfire… Hmmm… I’ll need to put more thought into this.

  20. “I hear that bocce ball players don’t start really drinking until the clock chimes double digits.”

    Yeah, right.

    I love Leon’s and one of the reasons I do is the bocce court. I have played there until after 10:00 before, but not much later.

    I think the neighbor has a good point. I will certainly be aware of him in the future. There’s nothing worse that having your sleep deprived, whether it’s yelling people(drunk or not) or barking dogs.

    Point taken.

  21. I’m not sure if he’s planning on responding to this on the blog, so I’ll share an email exchange I had with Michael at the Brick Store:


    Are you aware of the Tempest in the Teapot over at concerning late night Bocce?


    To which Michael responsed:

    Now I am. thanks for the tip. We’ll fix that.


    Now I’m going to see if Hillary Clinton needs some help with the whole Palestinian issue.

  22. On a somewhat unrelated note, we finally had the opportunity to eat at Leon’s last night. It was unexpectedly packed, but the turnaround is fast so we really didn’t have to wait long for a table. We really enjoyed our food (burger with chickpea salad for husband, brisket sandwich with the frites for me). There were a few glitches with the service (they kept giving my food to husband, and vice versa; and they got my husband’s side dish wrong), but they were really otherwise so friendly and accommodating that it didn’t bother us. Dinner for two with starters but no drinks was $30. My two big complaints: the bench seats are pretty uncomfortable for people who are height challenged, and they don’t serve iced tea (our server very kindly had a long conversation with us about why this is so – having to do with limited kitchen space, and the desire to “do it right if we do it”). The clientele was very diverse demographically – younger folks quaffing at the bar, dads with small children, couples (gay and straight), family groups, older folks, etc. (the table next to us even had a group of tattooed prayer enthusiasts).

    Anyway, no one was playing petanque/bocce while we were there, so I couldn’t gauge the noise level, but I otherwise pronounce Leon’s to be a nice addition to Decatur.

  23. Hey Frances, here is another idea to go along with the Cheney/Palin.

    Put out a large photo of the President and then all the players will stop playing bocce, drop to their knees and worship quietly.

    Problem solved.

    (no flaming, please! This is meant as in good fun as I am sure Sarah’s post was meant (at least I took it as humorous).

  24. Many cities that have actually dealt with a real mixed use urban environment (like Chicago for example) for a long time have a simple code that says outdoor sections of bars, restraurants, etc, must be closed by a certain hour.

  25. As a frequent customer at Java Monkey, esp. for the Sunday night poetry readings hosted by Kodac Harrison, I can tell you that the open mic must end by 11 p.m. because of an arrangement with the condo owners above.

  26. an interesting side-note on the birdnoises: I was quenching my thirst in front of the Brickstore one afternoon watching a mockingbird as it began to imitate the birdsounds (seagulls?) coming from West Court Square. definitely they are altering the ecosystem…

  27. Maybe Sab should have said that before Leons he/she really “enjoyed sipping tea on my balcony as the sun set over downtown, and falling asleep with cool breeze in from the open windows listening to the fake bird noises coming from across the Square at all hours of the night.”

  28. Happened to drive by Leon’s at 10:05 this evening and while there were people eating on the patio, the court was a ghost town. First time I’ve seen that (when they’re open).

    Problem solved?

  29. I only play bocce after 10 PM. I’m going there tonight to stir up some trouble. If you want to live downtown and hear crickets at night…move to Atlanta. That place is a ghost town at night. Try the Farlie-Poplar District, it’s as quiet as “I Am Legend”.

    1. Some Sundays, we have a Beer and Bocce afternoon at Winonna Park Elementary–big field–winner gets to toss the pelota and make someone else go first. Come on out.

  30. Dear Nancy,

    You totally win the argument against DM AND you are sassy. We kind of love you.

    Your biggest fans

  31. this is the only thread i’ve found that mentions the hartsfield problem, so my apologies if this should go elsewhere. we just bought a house in university heights after moving from midtown. we sat on our porch the first night and were so disheartened by the noises of the planes flying overhead – we were really looking forward to getting away from all the traffic noise we had from monroe drive, but now the distractions are even worse! it seems like it’s every day – can someone please address the weekends – monday part of it? thanks.

    1. Hartsfield Jackson noise also drives me crazy. I am in N.E. Decatur. Lately it seems much better, I am not sure if it is the opening of the 5th runway or the recession. At its worse it can be one plane per minute for hours. It is worst between 8-10am and then 6-8pm. I do notice it seems worse when overcast or when very windy. I think they change directions on the runway during certain weather events. I feel your pain.

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