By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — An area that one local property owner has called “Restaurant Row” is slowly transforming to something that could be characterized as a “food court” in the northern end of downtown Andover.
Five downtown eateries are seeking to establish outside seating this year, three of which include serving alcohol outdoors. Two of those three got approval from the Board of Selectmen Monday, moving them forward to getting approval from the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, according to Town Clerk Larry Murphy.
Approved Monday for outdoor alcohol sales were Brasserie 28, located at the corner of Main Street and Post Office Avenue, and Yella Grille, located further down Post Office Avenue.
With a third restaurant expected to open up next to Yella Grille in the coming months, bringing the end total of outdoor seats to 104, Murphy said “I don’t know if ‘food court’ is the right term, but this has been thoroughly vetted” by the town police and fire departments with regards to safety.
Brasserie 28 is approved for a total of 60 seats outdoors, including 32 on the town-owned sidewalk facing Main Street and 28 on the private sidewalk along Post Office Avenue, according to restaurant owner Matt Morello.
The establishment had to reduce the occupancy inside the restaurant to allow for 60 seats outside without adding additional restroom facilities, Morello said. The restaurant was already permitted for 135 occupants, between seated guests and those occupying the restaurants standing room, prior to adding outdoor seating.
“We only have about 75 seats total in the restaurant, but when you take the calculation, just the total space when you calculate for fire code, it comes out to 135,” he said. “We had to take a reduction in the total amount of seats by 15.”
Yella Grille will use two parking spaces on the privately owned road to set up six four-seat tables, according to Michael Morris, an attorney representing Yella Grille.
Both restaurants must have their seats fenced or barricaded off in some way, and they must prohibit alcohol from either entering or leaving the seating areas, as required by the license.
The Board of Selectmen also had to take special votes to recognize that neither of the restaurants are “detrimental to the educational or spiritual use of churches” since they both fall within 500 feet of two downtown-based churches, according to Murphy.
Before either restaurant moves forward with setting up their seating areas, they must go before the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, Murphy said.
Two other eateries were given a green light for outdoor dining as part of Monday’s meeting. Main Street based coffee shop Ultimate Perk, which has four tables with two seats each, got approval for an extension on their previous outdoor dining plan, according to Murphy.
Newly opened Fisichelli’s Pastry Shop also got approval for a plan with two two-seat tables.
All of the approvals must be re-approved by the town on an annual basis, according to Murphy.
The four restaurants join Palmer’s Restaurant on Elm Street and Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant on Main Street, which both provide outside dining on their own privately owned property.
One Thong Chai Bistro, set to open next door to Yella Grille later this year, is slated to come before the Selectmen for a liquor license.
at a future meeting. Their license also includes outdoor dining and reflects five four-seat tables, according to owner Apple Tomamichel.