A new coffeehouse with outdoor seating is coming to 44 Church Lane, the previous site of the Wild Pear cafe.
Java, a franchise with five shops in Idaho, hopes to open its new outlet by late summer, said architect Rick Hoag. The restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch, and feature custom roasted and organic coffees, muffins, soups, and other food and drinks.
Plans for the renovation of the site were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission last week and call for eventually replacing six parking spaces out front with landscaping that will enclose an outdoor seating area.
Hoag said Java, which will be located just east of the Spotted Horse Tavern on the south side of the street, will help give Church Lane a village-type atmosphere.
"We think the outdoor component makes a lot of that possible," Hoag said.
Todd Rippo, owner of the Java chain, decided to make Westport his first East Coast location after Brad Berk, a Westport resident, broached the idea with Rippo at a Java restaurant in Sun Valley, Idaho, last year.
"He thought it'd be a great addition to his hometown," Rippo said of Berk, who is now Rippo's partner. "We're going to spill off from (Westport) organically."
Rippo said Java will probably have 16 to 22 employees. The shop's signature offering is the Bowl of Soul, a mocha drink.
Java will also be located just down the road from the proposed multi-use complex known as Bedford Square -- the most significant downtown development project in decades.
Bedford Square is the site of the Westport Weston Family Y and its site plans were scheduled to be reviewed by the zoning commission Thursday night.
The proposal, which has already been approved by several other town boards, calls for retail, residential, restaurant and office use in the new development, anchored by a large public plaza. The complex would incorporate and renovate the Y's Bedford building and a former firehouse as part of the project, while the Weeks Pavilion, the newer Y building, will be torn down. The Family Y is currently building a new headquarters on its Mahackeno property in northern Westport, which it plans to complete next year.
The landscape provision at Java's future home still needs to be approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals. But with the site plan approval from the P&Z, the renovation of the existing structure can begin.
In addition to interior renovations, plans for Java call for changes to the façade with bigger windows and new awnings. The first floor of the existing building will also be lowered to ground level.