P&Z Watch: Famous Greek Kitchen Stumbles on Outdoor Seating

Famous Greek Kitchen in Byram. Photo: Leslie YagerOn Tuesday the owners of Famous Greek Kitchen in Byram went before the Planning & Zoning Commission with a request for approval for covered seasonal outdoor dining with 20 seats. They also want to create five additional parking spaces and offer valet parking.

The restaurant has previously offered outside dining but did not have the Town’s permission.

The restaurant has ceased to offer outdoor dining while the application is under review. The patio cover is in place but the seating has been removed.

The restaurant is located at 10 North Water St, but the applicants also own  the house next door at 14 North Water and the property across the street at 13 North Water, where Greenview Pharmacy operates.

Specifically the applicants seek to swap seating for 20 people inside the restaurant beginning at 5:00pm in exchange for the 20 outdoor seats. That would leave seating for 80 inside. Attorney Tom Heagney said the restaurant has a back room with 20 seats that can be roped off.

The commissioners noted that the request would result in greater parking non-conformity, and while there is a municipal lot  across the street from Famous Greek Kitchen, that cannot count toward restaurant parking requirement.

The applicant does own the parking lot on the other side of the pharmacy building and widened it so it is two-way. They use that parking for the restaurant when the pharmacy is closed.

However, there was confusion about what time the pharmacy closes because the website says 9:00am to 7:00pm on Monday to Friday but the chef/owner, Stavros Karipides, said the hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm.

Mr. Karipides said his family lives in the apartment over the pharmacy and does not have a car.

“The fact that your parents are there now – they may decide to live in Florida some day,” said P&Z chair Margarita Alban said, adding, “Coffee shop people came in and said there is nowhere to park.”

photo: Leslie Yager

The Famous Greek Kitchen has ceased using the outdoor seating area on North Water Street for the time being.

Mr. Karipides said people park in the free municipal lot and walk to Port Chester. Indeed on the other side of the state line drivers have to use a kiosk to pre-pay for parking.

The commissioners said they were sympathetic, and would like to see more outdoor dining in Greenwich.

“We’re trying to hep Byram,” commissioner Dennis Yeskey said. “Restaurants come and go. …We want to see the area blossom.”

“This is a family that does not come and go,” Mr. Heagney said.

The popular restaurant, which was originally Famous Pizza and Souvlaki, has operated on North Water Street for over three decades.

The application was left open because because of the questions about parking and other complications.

The Health Department wants the applicant to come in for approval. Mr. Heagney said he’d spoken to Michael Long, the Director of Environmental Service for the Health Dept earlier in the day.

“Mr. Long said they way to make sure that with the additional seating there is adequate refrigeration and that the fire marshal has accepted it,” he said.

Ms. Alban said the zoning enforcement officer noted the patio does not comply with setbacks.

“We’re here to correct an existing condition,” Heagney replied.

Commissioner Macri said the sewer department had questions about grease traps.

“You installed one but the Sewer Division hadn’t signed off,” Ms. Alban said.

As for the parking, the commissioners said the restaurant is underparked and the proposal would result in it being even more non-conforming.

However, Mr. Heagney said the proposal would not increase the non-conformity.

Lucy von Brachel of District 4 said neighbors have concerns about parking, though she said the restaurant is great.

The application was left open.

North Water Street in Byram. Photo: Leslie Yager

The applicant also own 14 North Water Street next to their Famous Greek Kitchen.