New restaurants signal better economy

Regency Oldsmobile at 342 East Main St
Regency Oldsmobile at 342 East Main St. Westfield, Mass. (Photo credit: The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The city’s License Commission will conduct three public hearings this week for liquor license petitions submitted by restaurants, two for proposed expansion of license premises and one for construction of a new facility.

The city has seen substantial investment by restaurant owners, which indicates a confidence in the economic recoverey, and by consumers, who patronize those new restaurants, a willingness to dedicate discretionary spending to dining out.

The commission has approved five new “pour” licenses for new restaurants in the past two years. Those include Clemenza’s on Elm Street, the Hangar on School Street, Papp’s Bar & Grill at the Barnes Regional Airport terminal, Shortstop Bar and Grill, which will open this month at 99 Springfield Road, which have all-alcoholic licenses for on-premises consumption, and Two Rivers Burrito Restaurant at 36 Elm Street which has a license to serve beer and wine.

Julie and Nabil Hannoush, who are converting the former Balise dealership into a retail complex that will include the Shortstop Bar & Grill, set to open on December 15, have requested an alteration of their license to include a banquet facility in the former automobile showroom and service building.

Lori Lucia, the owner of Shenanigan’s at 150 Elm Street, is also seeking an extension of her license to include the second floor to expand the occupancy capacity of the club.

The new license petition was submitted by 99 Restaurant of Boston, LLC, which is planning to demolish another former automobile dealership, Regency Oldsmobile at 342 East Main St., and construct a new 5,688-square-foot one-story restaurant facility. The chain plans to open the new facility next summer.

Jay Vinskey, the city’s principal planner, said no plans have yet been submitted to the Planning Department, but that the property is zoned for Business B uses, which include restaurants as a by-right use.

Additionally, the owner of The Westfield News Group is converting open space within their building on School St. in Westfield to house a new bagel, donut and coffee cafe which is expected to be open to the public by January 2. The cafe is just one part of a development plan for that downtown building in an effort to rejuvenate the Gaslight District.

“Westfield has recently received two designations,” said Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik. “Number One City on the Rise and Number One Happiest City in Mass.”

“My administration has worked tirelessly in changing the future of Westfield from a city on the decline to one that is both a great place to live and one with a vibrant economy,” said Knapik. “I have said from the beginning: the infrastructure improvements in this city that have both enhanced transportation and also have served to beautify this city will continue to pay great dividends for generations to come.”

“Entrepenuers invest in communities that invest in themselves,” he said. “We have done that.”

“To attract new business and to support Westfield’s current business members, a number of the City’s departments work together closely to ensure we are viewed as commerce-friendly,” said City Advancement Officer Joe Mitchell. “A prime example of this is our weekly business ‘Round Table’. It is at this venue that business owners can approach all the pertinent city departments at one time with their business creation or expansion plans.”

“At the Round Table, the various departments can identify issues and come up with solutions to assist the commercial venture,” said Mitchell. “It is the city’s ‘one stop shop’ for business growth.”

“We get a lot of positive feedback on this program and we are very happy with the results,” he said.

Media Credit: The Westfield News

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