STONINGTON — Plans to convert several retail spaces in Olde Mistick Village into a two-story, 166-seat restaurant with on-premises liquor sales were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday.
The commission approved a Special Use Permit to convert areas C, D, and F of building 12, which once housed Southern Exposure, a retail shop specializing in southwestern jewelry that closed in January 2017 after 22 years. The building was also the former location of the Bleu Squid Breakfast and Bakery Cafe, which has moved to another space in the village.
Renovations will comprise a 2,158-square-foot addition to the 4,675-square-foot space, including the enclosure of a ground-level porch and the addition of a second story porch with outdoor seating and a walk-in cooler. The restaurant area will be 6,171 square feet and will be open seven days a week.
“This renovation is part of the incremental improvements that this commission has not only witnessed but supported and approved in Olde Mistick Village for the last several years,” said William Sweeney, attorney at Tobin Carberry O'Malley Riley of New London, who represented the owner, Martin Olson Irrevocable Trust. “I think it represents a re-investment by the ownership of the village in the shopping center and a gentle and gradual shift in focus of the village to include, in addition to the long-standing retail uses, a variety of restaurants and other entertainment venues.”
Architect Peter Springsteel, of Mystic, who showed floor plans and a rendering of the project, said the new restaurant will be near the Jealous Monk and Go Fish, forming a type of “restaurant-entertainment pathway” within the village.
Sweeney said the addition of a new restaurant will also bring in more tourists for retail shopping.
“The new restaurant, the Jealous Monk and Go Fish will now create a three-legged stool at the eastern end of the village that’s going to attract people and it’s going to be a destination and that’s what we’re really seeing in our marketplace is that will bring people in, which will benefit our retailers as well,” Sweeney said.
The name and nature of the restaurant is confidential as of yet, Sweeney said.
“We have an idea but we can’t share it tonight simply because there are issues that we have to resolve, but be assured it will complement Jealous Monk and Go Fish, it will be an additional option for people in that area,” he said.
The parking demand of the new restaurant will be easily met by the village’s existing parking areas, Sweeney said.
Keith Brynes, town planner, said his department had no concerns about the project other than stipulations that signage conform to town standards, the final plans be reviewed by the town engineer and that no part of the new construction be placed over the sewer infrastructure under the pathways within the village.
The building has already been gutted and is ready to be renovated.
The commission unanimously approved the Special Use Permit.