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City reaches agreement with downtown business – music to return

Empty stage at the Main Street Bar & Grill (January 22, 2019). Photo courtesy of John Wirts

FERNDALE, Wash. — It appears the saga of the missing music at the Main Street Bar & Grill (MSBG) is over and patrons can soon expect to hear live music performances there once again.

MSBG owner Michael Crow said today he and the City reached an agreement that would allow live music at the MSBG, something the City had previously said could not happen unless a fire suppression water sprinkler system was installed.

During an appeal hearing regarding the City’s decision to label the business as a nightclub, thus triggering the sprinkler system requirement, the Hearing Examiner sided with Crow saying he could not see how the business fit the definition of a nightclub. The Hearing Examiner has since withheld issuing a formal opinion pending an agreement between MSBG and the City.

Crow said he and his attorney had been in communication with the City and their attorney since the hearing as they worked towards an agreement for going forward.

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The terms of the agreement reached, according to a copy of the document received by My Ferndale News, include:

  • Both parties agree not to seek damages from the other stemming from the City’s actions and the subsequent appeal.
  • The City will grant MSBG a tenant improvement building permit that does not require installing sprinklers or other fire protection measures.
  • MSBG will limit music to 3 nights per week; Thursday from 6pm to 9pm, Friday from 6pm to 10pm and Saturday from 6pm to 10pm.
  • MSBG will not impose a cover charge on any night.
  • Capacity rating will be reduced from 220 to 127 persons.
  • City agrees to refund the appeal fee of $600.
  • City will continue providing periodic inspections to ensure fire code compliance.
  • Neither party assumes liability regarding the matter being appealed by accepting the agreement.

The agreement was signed by both parties effective November 27th.

Crow said they are making arrangements with live music performers to return to the MSBG and he hopes the first performance will be Thursday night this week.

Prior to Crow purchasing MSBG, live music was a primary draw for customers on Friday and Saturday nights and there was often a door charge. Crow has been saying he will be moving away from that business model, instead providing music that is “ancillary” to the dining and drinking experience.


  1. Steve Martinson December 2, 2019

    Good for them, guess you can fight City Hall sometimes. Wish I could, sales now down over 33 percent with the light gone.

    • Mike Kildall December 2, 2019

      I’m with you Steve, it’s a absolute mess without the light

  2. Mary McDowell December 2, 2019

    Ancillary to the dining experience?
    When did having a band become a “dining” experience?
    Let Ferndale dance!!!!!!

  3. Mike Rostron December 2, 2019

    An absurd compromise. As usual another loss for live music. Music only from 6 to 9, or 6 to 10. No other live music venue is successful with those entertainment hour restrictions, except perhaps coffee shops. When it comes to culture in Ferndale, live music is apparently pretty low on the list for the elected officials. The whole dispute was a waste of time, effort, and money. Seems Ferndale wants to go the way of Lynden circa 1940.

  4. Theodore M. Cronk December 2, 2019

    I wish the owners all the success possible, however, as a musician who used to play there, the restrictions mentioned pretty much guarantee you won’t be seeing any group I am in playing there. Thanks Ferndale….Message received. My kind of people are not welcome.

  5. Alec Johansson December 2, 2019

    Unless it’s open Mic/Jam night on the Thursday , that might kinda work, but Friday and Saturdays will be dead dead dead. The won the war but lost the battle. DEMOCRATS at work again

  6. Rob Feeney December 2, 2019

    People are missing the point. The owners are putting a price on the lives of their patrons and employees. Fighting against the sprinkler requirement and changing their model show they don’t care about people. One fire related injury or God forbid death, will put them in a nightmare, financially and personally, they could never imagine. Statistics show we are unfortunately due for another Station Nightclub type tragedy in this country. Make your establishment safe shoes you care about your patrons and your business. This is a much better model to attract bands and customers.

  7. Dave Roys December 2, 2019

    I’m glad they can have music again.
    The hour restrictions are ridiculous. I’m in a band and have been playing for a long time. I can barely get home from work, pack up my gear, get to the venue, set up and soundcheck, and be ready to play by 8 on a Friday. 6 PM is dinner time, 7 PM should be the earliest a band would start there.
    I’ve seen a lot of great bands and had a lot of good memories at The Main Street, I hope they have success going forward.

  8. Stephen Morrow December 3, 2019

    Steve Morrow
    As someone involved in the fire protection sector (retired), I too am amazed about the level of priority. In today’s world safety should always be first. .

  9. Curtis gilbert December 5, 2019

    I don’t think the City of Ferndale should be running a bar. I bet they don’t even know one of the reasons for a cover charge is, besides helping pay for the entrainment.

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