2018-03-08 / News

Board OKs beer, wine at Village Hearth


When the owners of the Village Hearth Bakery are grilling pizzas in their wood-fired ovens, they occasionally like to wet their whistles while they work.

After receiving approval from the zoning board of review, the customers across the counter are one step closer to joining them.

The board unanimously voted during its Feb. 27 hearing to grant a special use permit to Andrea Colognese and Doriana Carella, owners of the bakery at the corner of Narragansett and Watson avenues. According to the ruling, the restaurant only can serve beer and wine indoors between noon and 8 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.

The Village Hearth, which opened in 2001 as a take-out bakery then expanded with seating in 2009, will now apply for a liquor license with the town council.

Representing the restaurant, Beavertail Road attorney Don Wineberg said the business has no plans to expand its capacity, which means more parking spaces would not be required.

“They just want to offer the same mix of food and beverages that many of the other restaurants in Jamestown do,” he said.

“As a family, we often drink wine or beer while we’re making pizza,” Colognese said. “People see it, and they would like to be able to enjoy it on the other side, too.”

While the board members were united in their support, neighbors directly to the north and south of 2 Watson Ave. opposed the request, mainly because of parking. According to Wineberg, he attempted to settle these issues with Cumberland Farms, including an offer to post signs in the restaurant alerting customers that parking in the convenience store’s lot was prohibited. The gas station, however, was steadfast in its opposition.

“This leads me to conclude that they think they have some sort of special right for onsite parking in the area, which is not true as a matter of law,” he said.

John Wilbur, regional supervisor for Cumberland Farms, believes alcohol will attract more customers to the bakery. He also said this change will increase the time they spend at the bakery, which inevitably will lead to Village Hearth customers parking in his store’s lot because the restaurant only offers on-street parking.

“We don’t expect to be serving more customers,” Wineberg said. “It’s more about servicing our existing customers.”

Wilbur’s concerns were echoed by Tyrone Sutton, owner of 31 North Road. He detailed the parking issues stemming from restaurant customers, which has led to a testy relationship between the two sides. He said these issues are harming his property value. Sutton also agreed with Wilbur that an increased clientele was imminent.

“The history of that business has been expansion,” he said. “They had a vested interest to allow illegal parking.”

Finally, Sutton had safety concerns for children because of the playground across the street. He said introducing alcohol into the area ups the chances of a child getting hit by a drunken driver.

While the zoning board agreed that parking is problematic in that area, its members said it’s not the restaurant’s responsibility to enforce traffic laws. As for safety concerns, the board agreed to limit the selection to beer and wine while prohibiting hard alcohol. Colognese had indicated an interest in serving vodka in Bloody Marys. The board also limited the days and times of liquor service.

“If they want to open on different days of the week, they have to come back before us,” Chairman Richard Boren said.

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