Matteus Frankovich reinstates live music at Moto Saloon

Matteus Frankovich, owner of Black Market Moto Saloon. Photo by John Robinson. Matteus Frankovich, owner of Black Market Moto Saloon. Photo by John Robinson.

Live music has returned to the corner of Market and Meade, and yet another battle over zoning might be brewing at the Black Market Moto Saloon.

Two months ago, City Council denied Moto Saloon owner Matteus Frankovich a special use permit that would have given his bar and restaurant music hall status and allowed him to host concerts. Despite being shot down, Frankovich has since started putting on acoustic events, and says he’s within his rights according to his certificate of occupancy.

“As it stands, my C of O says, in quotes, ‘No amplified music without an approved special use permit,’ so I have nothing in writing that says I can’t have acoustic shows,” Frankovich said. He’s confident enough that he’s posting notice of the unplugged shows on his Facebook page and in this paper.

But Charlottesville Zoning Administrator Read Brodhead said that’s too broad an interpretation, and he intends to make sure Frankovich knows it. The city ordinance defining restaurants says music has to be incidental to the business’ primary operation, said Brodhead.

“If I went down there and everyone was sitting at the tables eating their dinner and listening to someone play acoustic guitar, O.K.,” he said. “But if we go down there and there’s a basket of pretzels and that’s it and everyone’s listening to the show, I’d say ‘No.’”

Noise ordinance violations finally pulled the plug on late-night parties at Belmont’s Bel Rio in 2010, but Brodhead said the Moto Saloon issue hinges on that zoning language, “and I intend to enforce it,” he said.

City Councilor Dave Norris—the sole vote in favor of Frankovich’s music hall application back in October—had a different opinion. Norris said that in his “very clear understanding” of the city code, amplification is what triggers the need for a special use permit.

“It was brought up several times in the course of that whole discussion about how he was allowed to have unamplified concerts,” said Norris. “I don’t imagine that would be a problem. I hope he gets a good turnout and it generates some business for him.”

Bill Emory, a resident of Woolen Mills —home to the most vocal opponents of Frankovich’s bid for a music permit—said it would bother him if people were disturbed by noise at night, but “as long as they’re functioning as a restaurant or bar, I think everyone is fine with that.”

So far, Frankovich said he’s had no complaints about the revival of live music at Moto Saloon. “The fact of the matter is, our music never bothered the neighbors,” he said, and a sound test showed he wasn’t violating noise restrictions. He plans to hold his ground. “We’re going to continue to have dance parties, special events, acoustic music,” he said.

  • timothy de benedetti

    Read Brodhead sounds like the biggest dbag in cvil. stop trying to harsh our mellow brah.

  • Kirsten

    I hope it can work, and I love the idea of a venue for acoustic music over dinner… I will go!

  • Beth

    This is really beginning to feel like some sort of war on music. Time to give it a rest city of C’ville.

  • Anna
  • Anna

    Show your support for Live Music at the Moto Saloon. Visit

  • Captain Réalité

    From a business perspective, it would appear that the saloon’s owner can’t make a living selling his food and drink like so many hard-working and successful restaurateurs in Charlottesville do. Instead, he’s decided that the commodity he’ll sell is himself, playing a role as a victim of “The Man.”

    If your establishment provides what the public wants– delicious food, great drinks, and a welcoming atmosphere– and does so under the zoning allowed, then success will follow. He should take his cue from the flourishing businesses in town. Start with a foundation of honesty and respect, buckle down to do the work necessary, and keep the grandstanding, lies, and drama to a minimum. Operating from a basis of aggression, dishonesty, and conflict escalation from day one, then crying victim when called on it, rarely ends well and is frankly indefensible.

    • ATL of the LBC

      CR – you clearly do not know the following: 1. The person, M. Frankovich, whom you debase. 2. The degree of insignificance of your utterly hollow-sounding opinion. 3. The amount of hard work, heart and soul that has been poured into this establishment.

      My advice to you is to tuck tail and find another hot topic with which to entertain your bitter, satiric tendencies. Trying to find fault in another man’s misfortune is beneath even you (I assume).

      • TortFeezer

        No misfortune here. Simply a man who is bothered he can’t do something that his zoning won’t let him do. He chose the location and I am quite sure the City was thorough with him on his permit and his site planning. No attack on music or anything else is going on, simply being consistent with the rules. None of the restaurants in the zone get to do it either. I understand he has good food and would like to patronize his establishment, but as long as I see what I consider to be sour grapes, I won’t do it.

        • ATL of the LBC

          Then I suppose you’ll be eating your own sour grapes instead… they must taste better to you, however, knowing that you sit securely on the right side of the Great Zoning Debate. Enjoy!

          • TortFeezer

            I will be eating the Sour Grapes of places like Belmont Pizza. I do enjoy. I get my music fix at a variety of establishments around the area.

            And there is no debate. The zoning was clear before Moto opened. Sorry.

  • Lotte

    Captain “Réalité”-

    your remark is sickening at best. delicious food, great drinks, and a
    welcoming atmosphere are all things that frankovich has created. This is
    not about making a living it is about exercising your rights in a
    thoughtful society that honors freedom of expression and encourages the
    humanities. Advertised acoustic music doesn’t encroach on the rights of
    nearby neighbors in any way. Neighbors agree it is an asset. Laws are in
    place to protect citizens not to hinder culture. This is a case of city
    employees abusing their authority while protecting no one. Hiding
    behind the language of the law does not excuse the flagrantly amoral
    threats against this establishment. It appears it is difficult for you
    to comprehend that money is not the only motivating factor for hosting life music. so long
    to your petty “business” perspective how about a working model of
    creative tolerance here in Charlottesville?

    • Merrill

      It’s very naive of you, more likely lucrative since I’d guess you’re an employee, to suggest that regular infusions of large quantities of cash handed over at the door and super easy to keep off the books isn’t a very powerful incentive to operate a music hall.

  • Merrill

    Does this comment system only allow comments in support of the Saloon? What is to fear in allowing the truth to be discussed as well?

  • Arvin Salidas

    “As it stands, my C of O says, in quotes, ‘No amplified music without an
    approved special use permit,’ so I have nothing in writing that says I
    can’t have acoustic shows”

    Does the C of O address whether kitchen staff can prepare food on the floor of the restroom?

  • Jock McSense

    As far as I can hit it, there are eight issues at-hand here, and two solutions. Second of all, Mr. Yankovich ought to consider changing his name, for it has negative connotations. Further, he should update the title on his establishment: I’d suggest the Blue Rinse Bingo Hall. Once it is clear to those mothers-of-the-fathers of our city that they might be not afeard of the laughing cavalier, then young master Brodhead and his Roundheads can look again at gifting a weekly allowance of one shiny silver quarter, shaved just-enough so it may be rejected by a juke-box.

    I could also recommend that any attendant groupies to musical entertainers at the Blue Rinse Bingo Hall do “the Poznań Celebration” while any sound is happening; but I won’t. Good luck, Matteus, with the name change, and on your journey to perform at Super Bowl XLVII, AKA 47.

    • Captain Réalité

      Jock, that’s a very interesting point you’ve brought up. This is a great
      country, one that spawned PT Barnum. Even a hungry and ambitious boy named Matt
      Franko from the backwater of Mt Sidney VA can re-invent himself as a faux Eastern
      European man of mystery, or possibly a quasi Svengali. Such a person could set up shop in a city like this one– which is unfortunately rather slavishly desperate for hipster street cred– and have the more gullible locals following him breathlessly in no time. One would imagine that this particular crowd would be made up of scruffy self-styled anarchists, desperate aging bon vivants, and people who have made tragic tattoo choices. The very people who furiously denounce everyone around them, but cry “No fair, yer mean!” when anyone calls them on their antics, or they are asked quite simply to observe the same laws as everyone else. This is the motley crew that eats up what your Pied Piper is selling.

      One flaw in this scheme is the presence of intelligent well-educated people in Charlottesville, and they have sharp eyes and functioning ears. Inevitably, these people start to notice your hero’s chronic “factual inconsistencies,” and his worrisome tendency to loudly blame bystanders and the city government for his own failings. Before you know it, everyone is noticing that the tinpot emperor is wearing no clothes.

      The idea that this is being presented as a battle for for the honor of free speech or musical expression, instead of a chronic zoning violator getting busted, is hilarious.

  • Merrill

    Repeated censorship of an opposing view? Really? That makes this story read like a paid advertisement and makes me wonder if C’ville has any respect for the idea of journalistic integrity. You have regurgitated a very inaccurate spin on the course of events that led to the situation that the Moto Saloon is in and your readers deserve to have the whole story. Shame on you for disallowing that truth to be told.

    • Giles Morris

      How exactly have we disallowed that the truth be told, Merrill?

      • Merrill

        Well Mr. Editor, I’d say making it necessary to post the same thing 3 times before it finally shows up is hardly a sign that opposing views are welcome. Contrast that with the double postings by Mr. Franko’s girlfriend/employee Anna, each with a link to the hilarious online petition they have going, and you might see where I’m coming from.

  • Merrill

    Matthew Franko has never impressed me much with his smarts, but this really makes him look the fool and I suspect it will put him out of business. I’ve known Matt since before he adopted the Eastern European persona, so I call him by his real name.

    A certificate of occupancy, no matter how it is worded doesn’t spell out all of the rights or restrictions associated with being allowed to occupy a building. That is not its purpose at all. The certificate merely states that an official inspection has determined that the construction has been done in a way that complies with building codes and the space has been deemed safe to occupy. In the case of the Black Market Moto Saloon, additional wording was added to his certificate to make it explicitly clear that he needed a special use permit if he was going to operate a music hall.

    Making the limitations of the law explicitly clear to Matt on his certificate of occupancy was thought necessary due to his behavior in the past. He has quite a history of simply doing as he pleases and ignoring the law and that history is well known to city officials and those of us who have worked with him. Before he even officially opened for business in that location he started with the violations.

  • Merrill

    Search google for “8th Annual Country Christmas Show” and you will find the following:

    “Friday 16 December 2011
    Time: 8:00pm. Admission: $10 / $20. Age restrictions: All Ages. Address: E Market / Meade. This year we’re having a Christmas party and you are cordially invited. We hope you can make it! WHERE: 1304 E. Market Street, in the Linen Building at the corner of Meade and E. Market”

    At that time, the space was still under construction and the occupancy certificate wouldn’t be issued for more than a month making ANY occupancy by the public illegal, yet a stage had been built and it was being used for a purpose that Matt knew full well to be illegal in that zoning. In addition to the occupancy and zoning issues, alcohol was being sold. It was obviously not a private party since the general public had been “cordially invited.” The ABC license for the establishment wasn’t issued until January 20, more than a month later. A variety of illegal activities continued from that date a month before opening until the city finally had enough and shut him down in early Summer.

    Neither Norris nor Franko seem to have done much to educate themselves on the matter of zoning restrictions. Certainly neither has the “very clear understanding” Norris claims although city zoning regulations are pretty clear and straightforward. Follow the link to city code Sec. 34-480. – Use matrix—Commercial districts.
    MI zoning doesn’t allow for music halls without a special use permit. A smart 10 year old could figure that out from the chart.

  • Merrill

    The code defines a “music hall” as follows:
    “Charlottesville, Virginia, Code of Ordinances – Chapter 34 – ZONING – ARTICLE X. – DEFINITIONS
    Music hall means any place or business open to the general public on a regular basis where music concerts are provided and/or dancing is permitted, for which an admission fee is charged or for which compensation is in any manner collected, directly or indirectly, by cover charge or otherwise. Foods or beverages may be purchased by or served to patrons on premises incidentally to the music hall’s stated primary function as defined herein.”

    The definition doesn’t say anything at all about acoustic vs. amplified music or whether sound leaking from the venue is an issue. It would be a problem if sound did escape, but that is not what the code restricts and noise is only one of many reasons for music halls not being permitted by right in MI zones. Containing noise does not and should not automatically result in the issuance of a SUP. 4 of 5 on city council felt that those in favor of allowing the SUP failed to make a case for issuing it. The reasons for denying the application were well articulated by Kathy Galvin in particular. It is easy to find minutes of the meeting where they were enumerated.

    Zoning is imperfect, but it is one of the best tools we have for making life in cities livable. It is in the best interest of the city that those charged with enforcing zoning regulations do the right thing and shut the Moto Saloon down for willfully and knowingly violating the law.

  • TortFeezer

    You know, I would love to get some food and support this establishment, but this kind of silliness is just keeping me away.

  • Here’s the Answer

    Matteus is explicitly prohibited from having amplified music at Moto. Matteus IS allowed to have acoustic music at Moto, under certain conditions, as was referenced numerous times during the discussion of his Music Hall permit. Hosting acoustic music, in and of itself, does not require special permission from the city, nor should it. Even some of the opponents to that permit said that they would welcome acoustic performances at Moto, just not the loud amplified concerts. It seems to me that there’s a very easy answer here: when you go to see an acoustic show at Moto, buy a sandwich instead of pretzels. In advertising the shows, Matteus should encourage his patrons to do just that. Then the city can’t say the music is incidental to the restaurant. Plus, it’s more revenue for Moto, which will help keep it in business. Problem solved.

  • Aletheia

    In reading these sensational remarks I feel nothing but shame for the community of Charlottesville. I generally feel honored to be among the visionaries, intellectuals, artists and
    entrepreneurs of this town but the nature of this commentary among peers is disgraceful. The juvenile name calling, petty personal attacks and rampant egoism speak far more to the nature of the commenters than to that of Mr. Frankovich and his associates. Even the C-Ville, whose journalism I usually enjoy, has fallen into a discrediting pit of pop-culture spin by choosing to distort the truth of this story in order to portray a scene of base angst (e.g. reprinting an outdated photo of Mr. Frankovich, which was already used in a prior issue of the C-Ville, instead of running the photos that were taken just days ago which represented the fresh vision of wholesome ingenuity that Mr. Frankovich and his team are working to bring to Charlottesville). This story and its vile comments are nothing but embarrassing tabloid worthy babble.

    • Captain Réalité

      Aletheia, neither you nor any of your fellow Moto supporters have addressed the fact that Franko started the business in bad faith, under a cloud of lies, with a documented intent to pull one over on the city and neighborhood. His actions alone have caused any problems he’s facing today. When you choose to lie repeatedly, feel that you are above the law, and then passive-aggressively blame everyone else, you might experience negative consequences, correct?

      Re your statement: “..which represented the fresh vision of wholesome ingenuity that Mr.
      Frankovich and his team are working to bring to Charlottesville.” Are you actually demanding all new pictures of your boy in the paper because he has re-invented himself once again? There’s your rampant egoism right there. Is he sporting “wholesome” dad pants and a cardigan in the new pictures, or is it a patriotic theme this week?

      • Aletheia

        Case and point.

        • TortFeezer

          Not necessarily. While you say commentors comments speak for themselves – as in their actions – the same must be said for the other side of the coin. The owner of Moto did choose to operate from the get go in violation of his certificate, and did so for months before he was shut down. The owner then immediately sought to get a SUP to do what he had been doing before, and now is trying to do the same thing again under different reasons.

          A rational being would then surmise that the intent was to run a music hall with a restaurant, not just the restaurant his certificate allowed. Maybe it isn’t, but if so, then instead of crying civil rights violations, supporters can say what his real intention is?

          While we can agree that there is mean spirited discussion in this, it is hardly the monopoly of those who the owner on his actions.

  • gemini

    This clown is a rich poseur who does not deserve all of the ink you and all the other rags in Charlottesville give him.

  • tommytom

    Comments that attack Matteus on a personal level are ridiculous. Such comments detract from any sensible argument you can make against him. Perhaps Matteus bent some rules…I don’t even know, and I don’t really care. All I know is that he is an excellent host, a kind person, a creative mind, and a generous soul — the type of person I want to support, because his business reflects his excellent personality and creates a space where I enjoy spending my time…

  • Fed up

    Man, I’ve had it with this noisy clown. why don’t you ever admit your own history of bad actions, like hate against anyone who doesn’t agree with you? Maybe you’ll comment about all the lies you told city people and councils. No honor, man. Other businesses don’t break laws and then say they deserve special treatment. Why do you blame strangers and even people you know for your own stupid acts? The facts are there for anyone with eyes and ears. You broke bad from the beginning, bragged to everybody and lied about it when you got busted. You cried baby girl tears when you got caught. You can’t be trusted and proved it to everyone many times. You effed everything up but you won’t admit it because its still everyone else done you wrong, right? Dude, you wonder about all the people like musicians that don’t sign your petitions or come out to support you or drink your beer. Because you make the honest business guys and ladies look bad. People are trying to make a living and they don’t have to lie to do it. Why doesn’t the paper write a story about the people who are honest and stop giving away free advertising to jerks with a ‘tude who step on other people to get ahead.

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