‘Bistro’ Bill Would Allow Shops To Add Seats, Booze

By Andrew Wroblewski

awroblewski@longislandergroup.com

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards is proposing a bill that she said would make certain small food-service operators more competitive. 

Councilwoman Tracey Edwards is proposing a bill that she said would make certain small food-service operators more competitive. 

The Huntington Town Board is considering a code change that would allow some small food-service business owners to potentially more than double the number of seats in their establishments and apply for alcohol licenses.

If approved, the legislation offered by Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards would create a “bistro” designation within town code for food-service businesses with a floor plan no greater than 2,500 square feet.  These smaller businesses operate the same way larger restaurants currently do, but would not need to meet the current 2,500-square-foot floor plan requirement.

“All we have now for classifications are bars, food shops and restaurants…. [My goal] is to establish a classification for smaller restaurants that do not have the square footage as the larger ones, but are not food shops,” Edwards said Monday. “This allows those small-business owners that are mostly in strip malls trying to survive to be more competitive like pizza owners, etc.”

Under the current code, food shops cannot seat more than 15 people or serve alcohol. Those businesses could be considered bistros under the proposal, and would be permitted to have one seat for every 65 square feet of total gross floor area, which would be a maximum of 38 seats in a 2,500 square foot bistro. A bistro owner would also be eligible to apply for a license to serve alcohol for on-site consumption.

Bistros would also be required, in part, to always offer kitchen services while open. They would also need to provide seating for 90 percent of the maximum number of people allowed in the establishment by occupancy regulations, excluding bar and counter service.

A bistro, which cannot have drive-through access, would require one parking space for every 200 square feet of its total floor area, but could be granted parking relief if they are within 300 feet of a municipal lot. They would be permitted within C-4, C-5, C-6, C-7 and I-1 zoning districts, all of which currently permit restaurants and/or food shops.

Edwards said she modeled the bistro element of the legislation after similar code designations in towns across Long Island, such as the Town of Islip, which calls that type of establishment a “minor restaurant.”

As is typical when code changes are proposed, Edwards said, the Huntington Town attorney proposed another change meant to make town code clearer.

The change would pull the “bar/tavern” designation out from the current “restaurant” definition, where it’s currently found. The requirements for a “bar/tavern” would remain unchanged.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at Huntington Town Hall.