Peace St. business attracting late-night commotion - WNCN: News, Weather

Peace St. business attracting late-night commotion

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Sahara Hookah Cafe stays open well into the early morning hours after other area bars have closed their doors. Sahara Hookah Cafe stays open well into the early morning hours after other area bars have closed their doors.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

When Cat Hunter and her family moved from Washington D.C. to Raleigh's Historic Glenwood Brooklyn a few months ago, they thought they left the big city noise behind them.  But now, the Hunters, who also have a two-month old baby in the house, say the late night crowds at a hookah bar down the block is messing up their neighborhood.

"Drinking, throwing bottles and trash into our yard, sometimes urinating in our yard," Cat Hunter said.  "Loud conversations, car doors slamming, music blaring, cars racing up and down the street, literally racing up and down the street anywhere from midnight to 4 a.m."

The Sahara Hookah Bar and Cafe at 702 W Peace Street does not serve alcohol, but it does stay open until 4:00 a.m. on weekends, catering to some of the crowds that let out from the bars in Glenwood South after most of them close at 2:00 a.m.  Neighbors say Sahara attracts rowdy, intoxicated people to their otherwise quiet neighborhood.

"We knew that we were buying off Glenwood South, which of course is a popular restaurant and bar destination," Hunter said, "but we're several blocks from that so we expected some people coming and parking, but we certainly didn't expect to have noise all hours of the night."

Since the start of the new year, neighbors have called 911 at least 33 times between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. to complain about trespassing, illegal parking, noise and property damage.  One homeowner even reported having a rock thrown through his window, but Sahara's manager, Chelsea Sykes, says their customers are not the problem.

"If they're took drunk...we don't even allow that here," Sykes said.  "It's really professional customers here who are really nice and respectful."

Sykes says they're cooperating with neighbors to find a solution.

"We're on their side too.  This is our neighborhood.  We're all neighbors and we all...we agree.  We want these streets to be clean," she said.

On Tuesday, neighbors met with city councilors, police and Sahara's owner Naser Shamma, as part of a regular City Council Public Safety Committee meeting, to try and find a solution.  The group discussed possibly creating a new street parking zone for residents only and increasing police patrols.  Shamma said he would also consider hiring and off-duty officer, to keep the streets around Sahara a little quieter at night and appease neighbors.

Hunter says as the weather warms, the problems with weekend noise have only worsened.  She hopes they can find a solution soon, to bring some peace to Peace Street.

"We absolutely support local businesses and we want to see them succeed," Hunter said, "We just don't want it to be at the expense of our quality of life."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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