Gary Lee Bomar's dream of opening Gary Lee's Motor Club and Grub hit a snag last month, when the West Wash Park Neighborhood Association took issue with his plans to offer live music and off-street motorcycle parking at the Broadway spot -- and started campaigning against his application for a liquor license.
The motorcycle parking turned out to be a moot point; a right-of-way issue would have prevented Bomar from building it, anyway. But the would-be restaurateur really wanted the support of both the WWPNA and the Baker Historic Neighborhood Association when he went into his liquor-license hearing on July 11, so he had to make some major changes to his concept.
"If one neighborhood association is against you, it really messes with your chances of getting a license," he explains. So he entered into good-neighbor agreements with both groups, which stipulated that his 580-square-foot patio -- down from the 2,400 square feet he'd initially envisioned, thanks to a zoning issue -- close the patio by 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.
And with that compromise, both associations endorsed him. A lot of neighbors showed up to support Bomar at his hearing last week -- and Gary Lee's finally landed its liquor license.
The concessions have created other challenges. For example, Bomar will have to reconsider his menu, since the patio was where he'd planned to house his smoker. "We're looking into off-premise smoking and some cold smoking in the kitchen, but it might limit some of the menu," he notes.
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And while he'll be able to showcase live music, he won't be able to have dancing -- at least not for now.
As he moves forward, Bomar hopes to prove that he's a good neighbor, and then ask for amendments that will allow him to restore some of his original plans: a big, Broadway-facing deck, that smoker and live jazz and dancing. In the meantime, though, he's pulling permits and getting his construction plans approved. He has a target date to start building of July 28, with a goal of opening the first phase of his restaurant by late October. He'll be posting construction updates on his spot's Facebook page.
For now, he says, "It's a relief to get past this bump in the road."