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Downtown venue to appeal city’s decision to shut down the music

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

FERNDALE, Wash. — A November 5th public hearing with the Ferndale Hearing Examiner will be the first opportunity the business, The Main Street Bar & Grill, located at 2005 Main Street, has had to appeal a notice of violation issued by the City. The notice states the business is a “nightclub” as defined by RCW 19.27.510 and unable to hold live music events without an adequate approved fire suppression system.

Last year in October, former business owner John Wirts learned the business was going to be categorized by the City as a nightclub. That meant he was required to either install a fire suppression sprinkler system or stop the music. Not having the estimated $80,000 to $100,000 needed to install a sprinkler system, he said he had no choice but to stop having bands perform every weekend as had been the case since Wirts bought the business in 2014 and for years prior to that.

Wirts sold the business to Michael Crow earlier this year. At the time, Wirts had an appeal scheduled with the Ferndale Hearing Examiner but that was canceled after he sold the business.

Crow said he resubmitted a business license application earlier this year that said limited live music would be performed and that was met with the same fate. Crow is now appealing the City’s decision to reject that application.

According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) section 19.27.510, “nightclub” is a term used by the 2006 International Building Code and is applied when the total area of “concentrated use of unfixed chairs and standing space that is specifically designated and primarily used for dancing or viewing performers exceeds 350 square feet, excluding adjacent lobby areas. This does not include theatres, banquet halls or lodge halls.”

The public hearing is scheduled for November 5th at 1:30pm in the City Hall Annex Building located at 5694 2nd Avenue.


  1. Al Saab October 23, 2019

    Al Saab
    Sort of disappointing to have business that has been in ferndale for many years. That’s been doing the same clientele’s business. To have a simple law to curtail their business. I don’t disagree that fire protection is important, it is. But anytime you have a entertainment business servings food and alcohol they all should be under the same rules. Do you really think karaoke makes it a night club ? Come on ferndale people stand up.

  2. Terry Birdsell October 23, 2019

    I agree with Mr. Saab. The Main Street stood as the only venue that brought in the arts in the form of live music to the community. The presence of live music brought in by artists of all types from across the region (Blues, Rock, Jazz, Bluegrass, Country) was an important staple of the community and identity of our city for decades. A part of the culture. How this rule/law has been bent to target this business is interesting at best. The process the new owners have endured seems targeted and questionable. There is a group of individuals who are responsible for this decision who can also overturn it or get creative to consider other approaches. I would encourage our Mayor, an excellent musician and teacher of the art of music to many kids in our community, to stand up and support the presence of the art of music in Ferndale. I did not always go to The Main Street, but loved knowing artists were in our town. When I did go, I appreciated the opportunity to enjoy live music in our home town. See you all on 11/5.

    • Tracy Hall October 24, 2019

      Questionable is an understatement! Sounds more like someone who has a little power, got their feelings hurt and had to come out pounding their chest to show how powerful they are. If that’s the case, shame on you. I’d like to know if music venues were happening prior to 2006, when the law was created. If so, there’s a good defense. Also, I’ve been to the bar before, specifically to have a nice time listening to music. I came from Birch Bay, usually with 1-5 friends. By the time we had supper, stinks for all but the designated driver (Main Street provided them with unlimited non alcohol drinks), as a group, we spent anywhere from $50-$300 in Ferndale. That was usually twice a month. That adds up people! That’s OUTSIDE money that came into Ferndale for years and now it’s gone. Those tax dollars, jobs lost, etc., GONE! What a messed up decision you made. I’d like to leave with we saw very few problems when we went. The former owners were great at keeping a safe and enjoyable place to go. I’m going to try and attend the meeting. I REALLY hope that the powers that be, are going to be FAIR, no personal vendettas. You already financially hurt the former owners , try making a RIGHT out of the wrong you did. The voters are sure to appreciate that more than stripping any more money away from Ferndale!

  3. Susan E Hoffman October 24, 2019

    I think theres an underlying motive here…Just sayin…

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