The staff of , who watched the live on TV Wednesday night, had the bar stools already in place by the time owner Bob Ronan arrived back.
“What a circus it was,” Ronan said the morning after the momentous meeting with a sigh of relief. “It seemed like I was winning, then someone would speak, and I was losing, then I was winning, and back and forth like that for an hour. But in the end it seemed common sense prevailed.”
“Now we can do it right,” he said. “We’re a full-service restaurant.”
According to Village Administrator Anthony Giaccio, the issue was two-fold, and of course, more complicated than it seemed.
First, a “use variance,” Giaccio explained, is very difficult to get and requires proof of financial hardship which wasn't realistic. So initially Ronan had to prove he didn’t need a use variance to add barstools to his restaurant.
Second, was the issue of achieving a zone change for that particular location at 222 Beekman. Under the original zoning stipulations there could be no outside seating, no live music, and no drinking or smoking on the deck. These mandates were to be revisited after a one-year probationary period. But this, as described by Giaccio, was a “misunderstanding between the applicant and the Zoning Board. He just wanted barstools and doesn’t care about that other stuff.”
In the final moments on Wednesday, Ronan did make one additional request: for the Grill to be able to stay open until midnight, which he was granted. “Not that I will always want to do that,” Ronan said, “but it’s nice to have the option.”
Ultimately, the Board decided they just had to redefine what a "restaurant" is for the whole Village.
“In the end, the Zoning Board said, you know what, give them their 10 stools,” Giaccio said.
The vote was unanimous. “Everybody clapped. It was pretty dramatic,” Giaccio said. “As exciting as local politics can get.”
“Here we go,” Ronan said. “It’s like a new beginning. But be careful what you wish for, right?”