The Oar House Pub is facing new complaints about loud music.


For the second time in four months, City Council heard complaints about excessively loud music blasting from one of Sea Isle City’s best-known restaurants, the Oar House Pub.

Mike Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant, said during a Council meeting Tuesday that the Oar House has been playing loud music sometimes as late as 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning.

“It’s out of hand. It’s just complete disrespect for the neighbors down there,” said Monichetti, whose restaurant on Park Road is located about a block from the Oar House on 42nd Place.

Monichetti also alleged that some of the Oar House customers have been drinking outside the restaurant, crowding the public sidewalks and venturing into the streets in violation of local law. He believes the city would be exposed to liability lawsuits if accidents occurred on the streets or other public property next to the Oar House.

“It is now public record that I’ve brought this to their attention,” Monichetti said about the city’s potential liability in an interview after the Council meeting.

Formerly known as the Lobster Loft, the Oar House Pub is prominently located on 42nd Place near the corner of Park Road in the heart of Sea Isle’s historic Fish Alley neighborhood, an enclave of restaurants and commercial fishing boats. It is owned by well-known local businessman James Bennett.

When complaints first were made by Monichetti and nearby homeowners about the Oar House during a Council meeting in February, Bennett said he sympathized with the neighbors and promised to take steps to reduce the noise for the upcoming summer tourism season.

Oar House Pub owner James Bennett, shown in February, is promising his neighbors he will take steps to mitigate the loud music.

Bennett was not at Tuesday’s Council meeting and did not respond to a message afterward seeking comment. He said in February he would install his own sound system for the Oar House’s outdoor bar and have his own technician regulate the volume of the music.

He also said then he planned to install insulation and what he described as essentially a sound wall, or barrier, to tone down the noise. He indicated he wanted to have the new sound system and barrier in place for Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the bustling summer vacation season in Sea Isle.

However, Monichetti told Council that Bennett will not have a sound barrier ready in time for Memorial Day.

Monichetti then turned to Councilman William Kehner and complained that Kehner had not returned his calls seeking help with the Oar House noise. Kehner works for Bennett at the Oar House as the manager of liquor and wine operations.

In response, Kehner said he has repeatedly tried to get in touch with Monichetti, but it was Monichetti who did not return his calls. Kehner said he reached out to Monichetti following the death of his 94-year-old mother, Mary Monichetti, last November.

Angered by the comment, Monichetti bluntly told Kehner that he should not have mentioned his late mother.

“Leave my mother alone,” Monichetti said sharply. “My mother’s in heaven. Don’t forget that.”

Mike Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant, complains to City Council about excessive noise at the Oar House Pub.

In an interview after the meeting, Kehner said Bennett now plans to install triple-pane windows filled with argon gas to dampen the noise emanating from the Oar House on the dining room side of the restaurant overlooking the bay.

“He begged the guy to get them in by Memorial Day,” Kehner said of Bennett’s appeals to the window contractor.

Kehner said the contractor indicated that supply chain problems during the pandemic could delay the installation of the windows.

In the meantime, Bennett has brought in an audio engineer to help regulate the Oar House’s music levels, Kehner noted.

During the Council meeting in February, Monichetti and nearby homeowners complained about what they said was overwhelmingly loud music coming from an outdoor bar that made its debut last summer at the Oar House.

Kehner said Bennett has since lost the lease for the adjacent property that he had used for the outdoor bar. As a result, the outdoor bar will not be open this summer.

The noise-mitigation measures promised by Bennett were part of a signed agreement he made following his appearance before a judge and a mediator in a private complaint filed against the Oar House last year by a neighbor.

Capt. Anthony Garreffi, the officer in charge of the Sea Isle Police Department, said Tuesday he is not aware of any formal noise complaints being filed with police against the Oar House this year. Garreffi has made it clear that police are ready to respond to any complaints if they are made to the department.

Garreffi noted that he held a meeting last week with Sea Isle’s bar owners to discuss their hours of operation, the city’s noise ordinance and other matters that are routinely reviewed each year ahead of the summer season.

“They were receptive,” he said of the bar owners.