The North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) voted 10-21 to oppose the capacity addition at Bricco Restaurant at this week’s meeting. Bricco’s application is being made by owner Frank DePasquale at 239-241 Hanover Street. The expansion would add 47 seats to the existing 120 through an expansion on the ground floor into an abutting building formerly owned by Nobile Insurance Agency. A change in description on Bricco’s alcohol license (2am closing) will be filed separately.
The NEWRA vote contrasts with the unanimous support the application received by the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council. Both neighborhood groups are advisory in nature and the decision will be made by Boston’s Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA). A ZBA hearing is scheduled for December 7, 2010, 10:30 am at City Hall, Room 801.
Mr. DePasquale and Attorney Bill Ferrullo made the following points in their presentation:
- Bricco is not the first restaurant to expand in the North End. Lucca, Monica’s, Antico Forno and Pagliuca’s have all added additional seats to their original establishments.
- The expansion will add 30 jobs to the community. DePasquale Ventures employs over 450 people.
- A map was presented showing neighboring abutters had written letters of support. In addition, a favorable letter was noted from Fr. Antonio at St. Leonard Church on Hanover Street who also attended the meeting.
- Bricco is one of the most highly regarded Italian restaurants in the city.
- Mr. DePasquale is the Chairman of the North End Chamber of Commerce setting an example for other neighborhood businesses.
- Mr. DePasquale gives back to the community and has a foundation that benefits neighborhood charities.
In the discussion part of the meeting, David Kubiak, Co-Chair of NEWRA’s Zoning, Licensing & Construction Committee, said that while other restaurants have expanded, they have been smaller additions (perhaps except for Lucca). Addressing the audience, Mr. Kubiak said that a vote in favor of the application would smooth the way for an amendment to include the new space as part of the restaurant’s 2 a.m. license. Attorney Ferullo noted that alcohol licenses cannot be modified without the approval of the Licensing Board which would likely change the description rather than amend the license.
Responding to questions from N. Margin St. resident Anne Pistorio, Mr. DePasquale said he will not be adding to the second floor. The new space, which includes bar seats, will offer the same menu. He noted that Bricco could offer a light menu at night with pizza. Regarding the valet parking, he believes the expansion will not bring many additional cars because it will largely be used to accommodate people now waiting outside. He expects more patrons will have a longer meal from appetizers through dessert.
The restaurant’s alcohol license does not require food to be served with alcohol, said Mr. DePasquale in response to a question from NEWRA Vice-President Victor Brogna. Also, the restaurant will only have one main door on Hanover Street which will be carefully monitored.
A Bricco employee for 5 years spoke in favor of the expansion, “We have never had a problem or a fight in the place. Frank runs a clean house.”
Speaking in opposition of the application, NEWRA Membership Chair Mary McGee said, “We have a serious noise problem in the North End and this will only make it worse. The restaurant is essentially a club at night. The kitchen is not being expanded. Booze is the focus. This expansion is like opening a new restaurant with a 2:00 a.m. closing hour.”
Ms. McGee continued, “His foundation was established on November 1, 2010 shortly before this application. I would also like to know why Angelo Buonopane, a standing ZBA member is attending this meeting? This may be a rigged process, but it is a disgrace and should not be happening.”
Mr. DePasquale responded, “While my foundation began November 1st, my practices of giving started a long time ago. I will not stop giving. You name it, I give to it” (citing several North End charities).
Referring to Angelo Buonopane, “He attends meetings before applications come to the ZBA to get more information just like David Kubiak gets information in advance at the ZLC meeting. It is a practice that I believe in.” Mr. DePasquale also noted that his restaurant is on Hanover St. in the commercial part of the North End unlike other restaurants that have expanded on residential side streets.
Angelo Buonopane responded to Ms. McGee’s statement, “I will recuse myself at this ZBA hearing. I am here as a resident of 30 years. My name is on memorials. What have you done for this community? Mary McGee is against everything. “
A Charter Street resident spoke in opposition because of the noise issues becoming a “serious and increasing problem.” Mr. DePasquale said, “Bricco is not a night club. There is no DJ, no live entertainment, no amplification. We close our windows at a certain time.”
“Speaking for the Chamber (of Commerce), I don’t think the North End restaurants are the problem,” said Mr. DePasquale. Marie Simboli, NEWNC Vice-President, agreed by saying that Bricco is not the problem and noted the support of all abutting property owners.
Kathy Carangelo, a North End resident and staff member of Councilor LaMattina’s office, asked, “Are you a (North End) resident?” Mr. DePasquale said, “I will be as of February 1st, and I look forward to voting as a resident.”
A vote was taken by secret ballot of NEWRA members. President Stephanie Hogue announced the results of 10 in support and 21 in opposition. NEWRA will write a letter to the ZBA opposing the application.
In other business at the meeting:
North End Winter Street Sweeping Pilot Program – Similar to her visit to the neighborhood council last week, Commissioner of Public Works, Joanne Mazzaro, gave an informational update regarding the recent compromise on expanded winter mechanical street sweeping as a pilot program. Public Works will add the months of December and March to its mechanical street sweeping schedule (which previously stopped after November until April 1st). There will be no mechanical street sweeping in January and February as a compromise so that residents will not have to move their cars in those months. (More posts under the Street Sweeping tag.)
Paulie’s, 65 Salem St., former location of Go Bananas, Paul Barker – Applicant intends to open a restaurant with take-out and 18 seat capacity. Attorney Daniel Toscano presented on behalf of Mr. Barker.
Mr. Barker is the nephew of Joe Pace and is currently the manager at J. Pace’s on Devonshire St. in the Financial District. With this store on 65 Salem St., Mr. Barker will be going out on his own with a small takeout restaurant offering pasta, soups and sandwiches.
Hours of operation will be 7am – 10pm. There will be 18 seats but no table service, as most customers are expected to takeout. Mr. Toscano said the building’s condo association was in support of the application. The applicant’s ZBA hearing is December 7th and expects to open in the Spring of 2011. Mr. Toscano said his client does not intend to apply for an alcohol license at this time.
Vote on Paulie’s, 65 Salem St.: 26 support, 4 oppose; NEWRA supports the application.
19 Cooper St. Matthew Sepe applied for zoning variance to change occupancy from commercial on ground floor to residential studio apartment with 567 square feet. All units in building will be converted to condominium. The applicant is seeking relief for an inadequate floor-area ratio, lack of open space, and no provision for off-street parking.
ZLC Co-Chair said, “We see these types of zoning violations often and take them seriously. If a renovation meets zoning guidelines, they would not need a variance.” One abutter spoke in favor of the renovation. Mr. Sepe said the building is vacant now and was so before he purchased it, answering a question from Mr. Kubiak.
Vote: 24 support, 6 oppose; NEWRA supports the application.
Laz Parking, 588 Commercial St., Todd Gilbert (also a North End resident) filed for zoning relief to make improvements to the existing parking lot, also creating a 24-hour automated lot. The applicant did not pull building permits before starting work and received a stop-work order.
In answer to questions:
- There are two Zipcars in the lot.
- The new shed will be smaller than the old one.
- Lincoln Wharf resident Bob Skole said the company does not shovel the sidewalk in front of their lot near Fleet Street. Mr. Gilbert said he would ensure it gets shoveled.
- Abutters Michael Bonnetti and Chad Wolfson said the company has done a nice job of beautifying the space and maintaining it. However, there is a fence missing that presents a public safety hazard.
- Applicant agreed to add the requested fence despite this not being part of the permit application. Nicole Leo from the Mayor’s Office said she would request this at the hearing.
Vote: 23 support, 3 oppose; NEWRA supports the application.