The Cherokee Road building where the Staggers plan to open America. The Diner | Photo by Steve Coomes

The Cherokee Road building where the Staggers plan to open America. The Diner | Photo by Steve Coomes

Roux Louisville co-owners Dustin and Kyle Stagger had planned take the wraps off their latest venture, America. The Diner., on Mother’s Day, May 10. But a multi-point letter of complaint sent to local ABC officials by the Church of the Advent, Episcopal, has the project on hold indefinitely.

The 135-year-old church building and the building ATD would occupy are separated only by a small parking lot. The church fears that having a restaurant next door operating around the clock every day, and serving alcohol, will disturb the “serenity” of its two weekend and one weekly services. It also fears the restaurant will bring added traffic and noise to the already crowded and noisy neighborhood.

Dustin Staggers says he understands the church’s concerns and is willing to make changes suitable to both parties. But he said the church has not responded to his and his brother’s requests for an amicable dialogue.

“Though we’ve been willing to work with them from the beginning on their concerns, they won’t communicate with us,” Dustin Staggers said. “We want to take the high road and work with the church and all our neighbors. We know we’ll need them to do well here.”

Insider Louisville contacted the church in an attempt to further discuss the issue; a representative indicated the aforementioned letter is the church’s only comment at this time, adding that the Rev. Tim Mitchell is currently out of town.

The church made its concerns public on March 19 by sending a form letter to members of the Cherokee Triangle Association illustrating potential problems with ATD operating next door. The correspondence encouraged neighborhood association members to sign and send their copies to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in an effort to block the requested liquor license.

Staggers stressed that while unexpected, the church had the right to object to ATD opening there. But he insists the letter “is full of conjecture, it’s not based in fact. Send something based on fact, and we have no problems with that.”

Among the Staggers’ objections:

• The letter states that “24 hour, 7 days a week service, serving alcohol, is wholly inappropriate for the neighborhood.”

According to Staggers, Louisville has no 24-hour alcohol service permit.

“The city has three basic permits: You can serve until midnight, until 2 a.m. or until 4 a.m.,” he said. “We only applied for the 4 a.m. license because you always ask for more than you think you’ll need and then you adjust as appropriate.”

He said he also doesn’t envision ATD as a place people will come for late-night drinks.

“If you’ve been at a bar drinking all night, you come for food to soak all that up. You don’t come here for more drinks,” he said.

• The church claims, “Noise levels from alcohol usage, outdoor seating & live (or recorded) music are disruptive to church services and residents of the area,” which Staggers says is without basis.

“This is going to be a diner, so we’re not going to have live music or any music at all outside,” he said. “And we’d have no problem changing our hours of alcohol service outside to make them happy.”

• The church also asserts that ATD is too large a business for the number of parking spots on its lot, a concern Staggers called unfounded and concealing an ulterior motive.

“The city has a square-footage-to-parking-space formula, and we’re not only well within that, I believe we have one-and-a-half spaces extra,” Staggers said. “Plus, what the church isn’t saying is it’s been using that parking lot for the past two-and-a-half years since the last business closed. So I think that argument is derived from the fact that they don’t want to lose those spots.”

Silly or sane, the church’s arguments mean America. The Diner. will not open on schedule. But Staggers said they’re still confident it’ll happen.

“We’ve gotten some encouragement from (District 8 Representative) Tom Owens, who said he’d work to help solve this thing,” Staggers said. “We told him we have no desire to disrupt the neighborhood or any residents’ lives, and that we’d have no problem stopping seating outside after a certain time to keep it quiet. He seemed pleased with our willingness to work with the neighborhood, which is a good sign. So, yeah, we’re hopeful.”