During Tuesday’s Planning & Zoning meeting via Zoom, an application for a final site plan and special permit was reviewed for a new coffee shop at 1162 East Putnam Ave in Riverside.
The applicant, “1162 East Putnam, LLC,” (registered to John J. Fareri, Manager, per the Secretary of State website), sought to change the use of 2,162 sq ft on the first floor of the front of the building from retail use to restaurant use for a new coffee shop with 24 seats.
The building and property have recently been renovated, and many remember the address as the former home of Estate Treasures.
The coffee shop will be CFCF, Coffee Cafe & Roastery, which has an existing, popular location on Greenwich Avenue.
Parking would not be an issue because the square footage requires fewer spaces – 8 spaces for restaurant and 10.81 for retail.
Commissioner Alban told the applicant’s attorney Christopher Bristol that the commission would condition approval on the restaurant’s grease trap.
“We’re going to condition that, and we’re going to make sure you do stay on top of it because in that part of town we have had a problem,” Alban said.
At the previous P&Z meeting there was discussion of a longtime issue with the grease trap at Valbella.
Ms Alban also suggested to Mr. Bristol that his client consider finding a place for a take out window.
“Your benefit – not anything to do with zoning – but you might want to ask your client if they want to consider it because it could be quite handy one day,” Alban said.
“I’m happy you brought that up,” Bristol said, adding that his client might like to create a small walk-up pedestrian window.
“Absolutely, a pedestrian window,” Alban said. “We do now allow drive-through.”
Liz Peldunas from the Riverside Association commented, “Delighted there will be a tenant in this building. I had heard many moons ago it might be a coffee shop, and I think we have room for that in the community.”
Peldunas said she was smiling at the idea of a take-out window.
“The only other thing is, I know the weather is changing, but is there opportunity for benches outside to enjoy coffee outside during the pandemic?” Peldunas asked.
“Maybe, Mr. Bristol, that would be your answer depending on where you put the window, because if you do the window to achieve social distancing, you have to consider people on benches not too near the window.”
“Can this be a situation we would explore in a good faith effort to incorporate into the final design?” Bristol asked.
“Absolutely,” Alban replied, adding that she’d like the applicant to indicate how they will be consistent with POCD and Greenscape task force when they return.
“Make sure we have trash cans outside that are attractive as well, so we don’t generate junk,” Peldunas suggested.
“Great point,” Alban said, adding that litter is a sore point for the Riverside Association, and they would like to see businesses make every effort.
“Further up toward the exit (of I95) – that’s is a significant problem for them,” Alban said. “The big issue for Riverside is what happens outside McDonald’s.”
“I think it’s terrific that there will be some retail starting in this environment – delighted!” Peldunas added.
“I can also tell you that from personal experience that their existing location has extraordinarily good coffee,” Alban said.
“That’s my Sunday morning go-to,” said commissioner Victoria Goss.
The applicant agreed that prior to a zoning permit sign-off, they would evaluate the addition of benches, potted plants and trash cans on site, and that those plans would be reviewed by staff.
The commission closed the application.
The decision was unanimous with Margarita Alban, Nick Macri, Dennis Yeskey, Victoria Goss, and Peter Lowe all voting in favor, for a vote of 5-0.