Dominating Thursday’s North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association meeting were issues relating to Hanover Street restaurants with two of three new applications being opposed by the group. Members supported Jennifer Pittore’s “Locale” but opposed requests by Nick Varano’s “Strega Cafe” and Frank DePasquale’s “Il Panino Express.” There was a lot said (Ed: some might say a little too much!) at the Thursday, May 10, 2012 standing room only NEWRA meeting, presided and moderated by President Stephanie Hogue.
Hanover St. Congestion Issues – Before the zoning and licensing requests were heard, NEWRA reviewed the findings of the Northeastern students’ Senior Capstone “Essential Engineering” team project (view video), regarding vehicle and pedestrian traffic congestion issues on Hanover Street. Problems were cited with delivery trucks, taxis, valets and overnight trash pickups. It was recognized that North End Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Frank DePasquale, recently issued a letter to neighborhood businesses to have deliveries before noon so that traffic does not back up in the afternoon. Also discussed were the ideas of expanded sidewalks, commercial loading zones and residential/visitor parking. A NorthEndWaterfront.com poll regarding the redesign ideas can be viewed at this link.
371-373 Hanover Street, Nicola Varano has filed for zoning relief to change the legal occupancy of the first floor unit from retail store (formerly Casa di Stile) to a restaurant with take-out. The proposed restaurant, “Café Strega,” will have 10 seats and a capacity of 19, with service of pizza, hot and cold appetizers and café foods and beverages. Mr. Varano also plans to apply to the Licensing Board for a new Malt and Wine with Liqueurs License or purchase an existing license for transfer. Proposed hours of operation are 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM, 7 days.
Meeting participants spoke with mixed views regarding this application. NEWRA recently supported a beer and wine license for Mr. Varano at Nick’s Famous Deli on Cross Street. Regarding Cafe Strega, residents discussed the increasing number of eateries (now at 126) in the North End / Waterfront. Some residents raised quality of life concerns while others supported the efforts good businesses that contribute to the neighborhood.
NEWRA’s vote: 13 in support, 20 in opposition – NEWRA will write a letter opposing the application.
350-352 Hanover Street, Jennifer Pittore has filed for zoning relief to change the legal occupancy of the first floor from retail store (formerly Hanover News) to a restaurant with take-out. The proposed restaurant, “Locale,” will have 18 seats, with service of gourmet pizzas and hot and cold appetizers. Owner also plans to apply to the Licensing Board for a new Malt and Wine License. Proposed hours of operation to 11 PM Sunday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday.
Represented by Attorney Daniel Toscano, the Pittores’ of Hanover News (and formerly Sage as well as a Prince St. pizza shop) have decided to change the location from a news shop to a pizza shop due to increasing rents on Hanover Street and the declining newspaper business. Nearly all of the audience comments were favorable of the longtime North End family.
NEWRA’s vote: 18 in support, 15 in opposition – NEWRA will write a letter supporting the application.
266 Hanover Street, Il Panino Express, Frank DePasquale has applied to the Licensing Board for a new Malt and Wine with Liqueurs License to be operated on the premises. Hours of operation will not change and are to 11:00 PM, 7 days. Owner transferred a former Malt and Wine with Liqueurs License from this location to Gelateria, 272 Hanover Street, several years ago.
The controversy with this application centered around a past NEWRA vote opposing a similar Cafe Lil Italy request, purportedly because an existing license was transferred in advance of the new license request from the City. Mr. DePasquale, a longtime North End businessman and one-year resident, explained that he has a 20 year lease at the property and moved the old license because of a landlord dispute. That license is now held by Gelateria which has a 49% separate owner. Other discussion points centered around potential changes at the eatery, DePasquale’s contributions to benefit the North End and whether the neighborhood has reached a saturation point with 90-odd pouring alcohol licenses.
NEWRA’s vote: 12 in support, 21 in opposition – NEWRA will write a letter opposing the application.
These three Hanover St. restaurant applications will also be considered by the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council, NEWNC, on Monday, May 14, 2012, 7:00 pm at the Nazzaro Community Center, 30 N. Bennet St. Both neighborhood groups votes are advisory to the City of Boston Licensing Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. View the Community Calendar for more meetings and events.