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NEWRA Supports Lucia’s Live Entertainment and Salem St. Renovation

NEWRA Logo ClearOn Thursday, October 14, 2010, the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) voted to support a residential conversion in the former location of Sheldon’s Discount Store on Salem Street as well as a live entertainment license for Lucia Ristorante on Hanover Street.

NEWRA President Mark Paul (standing), Secretary Katie Kulikoski (left), Vice-President Stephanie Hogue.
NEWRA President Mark Paul (standing), Secretary Katie Kulikoski (left), Vice-President Stephanie Hogue.

133 Salem Street – Zoning Conversion

In a vote of 30-2, NEWRA supported the application by David Crocini of 133 Salem Street for a renovation of the building formerly used by Sheldon’s Discount Store. Mr. Crocini appeared with attorney Daniel Toscano to explain the request to add a partial fourth floor to the building. The new height of the building would be less than 50 feet and the legal occupancy would change from retail throughout the entire building to just retail on the first floor with 4 residential units on the upper floors and patios on the roof. The applicant has a hearing at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) scheduled for November 9, 2010.
This application has been presented previously at NEWRA’s zoning committee (ZLC) and the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) meetings, so there was limited new information. The owner currently does not intend to lease the first floor to a restaurant, although the applicant is “not closing the door” to that option in the future. Trash and recycling will be accommodated through containers in the lobby. There was some discussion regarding the small sizes of the residential units because the ZBA often requires a 1-bedroom apartment to have a minimum of 750 square feet. After a vote, 30 out of 32 voting NEWRA members supported the request.
  Attorney Bill Ferrullo (left) and Lucia’s Owner Donato Frattaroli.Lucia Ristorante - Live Entertainment License Application

Attorney Bill Ferrullo (left) and Lucia’s Owner Donato Frattaroli.
Lucia Ristorante – Live Entertainment License Application
In a vote of 22-14, NEWRA members supported Donato Frattaroli’s application for a live entertainment license at Lucia Ristorante, 415 Hanover Street. This issue previously came before NEWRA in December 2009 when the residents association voted 10-49 against a zoning change that would allow live entertainment. However, with support from NEWNC at the time, the City’s Zoning Board of Appeal granted the request.
With the zoning in place, Mr. Frattaroli has now applied to the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing for the license itself. After withdrawing a previous request for a comedian, the application  now includes live entertainment with up to 2 musical instruments and 1 vocalist. The live entertainment would be held in the basement which has a capacity of 52 people and no windows. There will not be amplification nor will the music be piped to the upper floors. One question that will be determined by the ZBA is consideration of an electric keyboard that needs an amplifier to work. Hours for the live entertainment would be between 11 am and 11 pm. Lucia Ristorante already has a license for background recorded music, as do most existing restaurants.
Attorney Bill Ferrullo represented Mr. Frattaroli at the NEWRA meeting and said that the entertainment would include “Sinatra-like” singers and/or impersonators which have been successful at Lucia’s in Winchester, also owned by Mr. Frattaroli. Daytime hours are being requested to accommodate events such as communions and special lunches.

Resident Jim Salini asked whether customers can be served alcohol while attending performances without eating at the restaurant. The applicant said their liquor license requires food to be served with alcohol, other than at a small bar for patrons waiting for a table.

David Kubiak, NEWRA’s co-chair of Zoning, Licensing & Construction Committee (ZLC), recited text from a letter previously submitted by NEWRA to the ZBA in December 2009 when the group opposed the zoning request for live entertainment. The letter cited the effects of oversaturation, such as noise, traffic and general congestion within the neighborhood. The letter noted the risk that many other North End restaurants would follow with similar applications.

As an example of how these changes have crept into the overall environment, Mr. Kubiak recalled how wide-open windows were once rare at neighborhood restaurants until Baccio (now Lucca), changed their window design to fold back, in an open-air fashion. This brought interior noise to the street and was quickly followed by other restaurants. He is concerned that live entertainment licenses would similarly become commonplace in the North End. Mr. Kubiak concluded, “I do not believe this neighborhood can accommodate more customers or more traffic.”

Specifically addressing NEWRA ZLC Committee co-chairs, David Kubiak and Victor Brogna, Mr. Frattaroli objected to them “going after him every time.” He asked, “Why do you always pull me down?” He believes he is being targeted and implied that the committee heads played favorites by accommodating requests of other business owners. Mr. Kubiak expressed his regret that Mr. Frattaroli made this a personal issue. He said his remarks referred to the overall situation of congestion in the North End. President Mark Paul interjected by asking that comments not be personal in nature and limited to the issue at hand. Mr. Paul highlighted the unanimious opinion that Lucia’s is a well-run business.

Donna Freni spoke in favor of the license application, saying that NEWRA’s ZLC co-chairs “do not speak for all of us here.” She thanked Mr. Frattaroli for his contributions to the community, such as the Taste of the North End.

Sanjoy Mahajan, NEWRA Treasurer, defended Mr. Kubiak saying that “he does a lot of work for the good of the neighborhood. We should be thankful of his efforts.” Mr. Mahajan agreed with the concerns raised regarding the level of noise and traffic caused by the increasing number of restaurant customers.

Attorney Ferrullo told the audience that getting a live entertainment license is not easy because of the long process, implying that other restaurants may not seek such a license. He also referred to another live entertainment license which was granted to Fiore for a piano. “It is very nice and you don’t hear it outside the restaurant.” He recalled a NEWRA member opposing that license by saying it would turn the North End into the Las Vegas strip. “That has not happened. People like it.”

Katie Kulikoski, NEWRA’s Secretary, spoke in support of the application. She is a direct abutter and has found Mr. Frattaroli’s restaurant to be a good neighbor with respectful valet and door people. She also noted Mr. Frattaroli’s contributions to charitable causes in the neighborhood.

An audience member that works at the firehouse across the street from Lucia’s said “Donato runs a good show. He is a good man. If they were all like him, this neighborhood would be a much better place.”

Endicott Street resident Nancy Caruso asked, “Donato, how long have you been in operation using non-live music?” He responded that Lucia’s has been open since 1977 with no complaints about the music. He also said that his bedroom is above the restaurant. Speaking in support of the license, Ms. Caruso said, “that’s where it should be.” Mr. Frattaroli said, “I do not have speakers outside like others do. You will not hear anything outside the building.”

NEWRA members voted by secret ballot, 22-14 with the majority voting to support Lucia’s live entertainment license application. The group will write a letter of support to the licensing authority.