NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – In a unanimous decision, the borough’s Planning Board approved the expansion of Daham’s Bagel and Deli located on Springfield Avenue.
Owner Eddie Daham sought approval to expand his current location to an adjacent vacancy which would increase his current square footage from 1,297 to 2,248.
The expansion would increase current seating from 12 seats to 36 seats and create an additional eight seats for outdoor dining.
During sworn testimony Tuesday night, the applicant’s attorney, Jeffrey Lehrer, led three witnesses through a series of questions outlining the applicant’s requests.
Daham said he had been in the bagel business since 1991 and his current store, opened last year, has five full-time employees and three part-time employees who worked on weekends.
“We make bagels the old fashioned way – by hand,” Daham told the board.
The store is open seven days a week: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“This is a family town and people want to sit down together,” the store owner said explaining his request for additional seating capacity.
The store owner said that 90 percent of his business is generated on Saturdays and Sundays between of 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Witness Craig Peregoy, a traffic consultant, said the store’s hours of operation and peak business periods would not generate parking shortages since other restaurants in the area did not open until lunch time.
Architect Kurt Schmitt took board members through a drawing of the proposed layout depicting an improved service area and a separate seating area.
Mr. Schmitt said there would be eight plastic tables and chairs placed along the sidewalk on Springfield Avenue. Pedestrian traffic would not be hampered due to a five foot buffer zone to the street curb. He added the tables and chairs would be removed at the end of the day and stored in the basement.
During the hearing, several board members focused on parking and hours of operation. Chairman Robert Lesnewich said the bagel store was an ideal use of the property which would not create any parking or traffic issues.
However, board members were concerned when Daham said that at some future point he might want to expand his menu offering and close at a later hour.
Parking issues were once again raised with concerns over ample parking in the area during dinner hours.
After considerable discussion there was board consensus that Daham’s business could stay open until 8 p.m.
That proposed restriction met with stiff opposition from the store owner. “I don’t want someone to tie me up like this,” Daham said.
After a brief recess, Daham and his attorney returned to the hearing and agreed to the 8 p.m. restriction.