Changes OK’d to shell of former clam house for new eatery
Published 6:11 am, Monday, June 22, 2015
If all goes as planned, a new steak house will add more sizzle to the burgeoning menu of Saugatuck culinary choices later this summer at former longtime site of the Mansion Clam House.
The new Riverside Avenue establishment, owned by Patrick Fahy, will be called Parker Mansion and will join the portfolio of other restaurants he owns, including Parker Steaks & Scotch in Trumbull and Parker Eatery & Bar in Stratford.
Fahy got the needed approvals for a change of use from residential to restaurant on the second floor of the building from the Planning and Zoning Commission recently. That allows for the front half of the second floor to be removed in order to have a cathedral ceiling in the downstairs dining area.
The P&Z also approved an exterior alteration to reconfigure an existing deck on the second floor to be used for outdoor dining.
“They are shooting for a summer opening,” said Chip Stephens, zoning commission chairman.
The entire building will be renovated, he said, adding the building was “in severe disrepair.” He said the foundation has already been fixed. Before, he said, “it was essentially a wood floor sitting on dirt. Now it’s safe.”
Achilles said they tried hard to come up with a solution to preserve much of the old structure.
“Through a bunch of design concepts, we came up with this,” he told P&Z members.
Besides downstairs dining and the Saugatuck River views from the second floor dining area, the “existing deck can now become an outdoor eating area,” he said.
The building exterior “stay the way it” currently looks, Achilles noted. “We are only moving some windows around.”
The deck will also remain the same square footage, he said.
Concern over parking was raised by some commission members. They were told that there is currently a mixture of paved and unpaved areas for parking on the site, but no defined spaces.
Commission Vice Chairman Jack Whittle asked if the applicant could come back with an organized parking plan.
Stephens agreed, saying “help us understand” how to cope with parking and traffic there.
He added that because of traffic congestion in that area of Saugatuck — a concern also raised by Chief Dale Call in a memo to the commission — it sometimes takes up to a half-half to get through the nearby intersection.
Stephens said there are commuter parking lots nearby for customers and that valet parking could be an option.
Barr said he had every “good intention” to come back with a parking plan for the property.
Representative Town Meeting Member Matt Mandell, District 1, who also is the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director, said he likes the idea for the new restaurant and also commended the applicant for plans to re-use the building.
He said he realized the question of parking needs to be addressed. “But let’s get this open,” he said.
“When we get complaints about the parking, can we send them to you?” asked Stephens.
“I get them already,” he said.
The commission approved the application by a unanimous vote.