The neighborhood of Westville is set to get livelier after dark, as the Board of Zoning Appeals has approved two after-hours nightlife options in the district.
On Tuesday, the board gave the go-ahead to two separate Whalley Avenue proposals. Manjares Bistro’s request to serve liquor at night sailed to an easy approval, while a developer’s plan to re-establish Delaney’s Restaurant & Tap Room, which burned down in August 2014, was narrowly approved after facing some scrutiny from a zoning commissioner. Manjares’ proposal required a special exception from zoning rules to proceed, while Delaney’s needed both a special exception and variance, a more significant deviation from the zoning ordinance, to proceed in transforming a vacant lot into a three-story structure with a restaurant and residential spaces in the floors above.
“I was happy to give my full support to both the Manjares expansion and the new development on the former Delaney’s site,” said Ward 25 Alder Adam Marchand, whose ward includes the locations of both developments. “Both will add to the vitality of Westville Village. We have a wonderful cultural, commercial center. … There’s so much to enjoy in that area, but it needs more activity.”
Located at 838 Whalley Ave., Manjares is a local eatery in the Westville neighborhood known for its light fare and family-friendly atmosphere. Owned and operated by Ana De Los Angeles, the ground-level storefront shares a building with an artist’s complex that has apartments and residential spaces upstairs. It is currently open only for breakfast and lunch, and locals frequent the establishment for pastries, food and coffee. Marchand said Manjares serves some of Westville’s best coffee and that residents spend many hours at a time in the shop.
Now that De Los Angeles has succeeded in getting a liquor license, she will be able to operate a full bar, making it financially feasible to open for dinner in the evenings. She stressed in meetings with city planners and officials that she has no intention of turning Manjares into a nightclub. Marchand said the liquor license will provide Manjares the ability to extend the hours and operation of the store while maintaining its relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
According to the New Haven Independent, the zoning board approved De Los Angeles’ request to serve liquor until 11 p.m. in what she described as a “sala” — the Spanish word for living room. The special exception Manjares was granted waived the requirement that an establishment of her size have at least nine parking spaces to get a liquor permit.
Although there are concerns about sound containment for the tenants living above Manjares, De Los Angeles’ neighbors have largely supported the expansion. Inger Da Silva, a co-owner of Da Silva Gallery, located across the street from Manjares, expressed support for the approved expansion, saying she was not concerned about potential disruption.
“It’s going to be a good addition to our neighborhood,” Da Silva said. “It’s nice to have more places to go to at nighttime.”
The Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the Manjares proposal, but one commissioner voted against the development proposed to re-establish Delaney’s. The empty lot where the project will be completed sits at the corner of Whalley and Central avenues, which Marchand stressed was a central location in Westville.
According to the Independent, the proposal for Delaney’s involves a 180-seat restaurant and 22 apartments above. The developers requested a variance, or a deviation from the zoning ordinance, which comes with a higher level of scrutiny. The requested variance to eliminate the usual requirement of an 11-foot yard so that the restaurant can extend a staircase from the exterior of the planned building to the end of the lot. Variance requires proof that the establishment faces “hardship” — the one commissioner who voted against Delaney’s cited a failure to prove hardship as the reason for her vote.
Nonetheless, Delaney’s gained approval for both the variance and a special exception, also related to parking, and Marchand expressed pleasure at the influx of activity the new restaurant and its developers will bring to the neighborhood.
He said he has never struggled with parking availability in the area, which he said he frequents often with his family. As a member of the City Plan Commission, Marchand explained that the proposed revisions to the zoning of the district are forthcoming, as the needs and nature of the zone shift in the direction that both Delaney’s and Manjares are heading.
The lot on which the resurrected Delaney’s will be built is located at 882 Whalley Ave.
Angela Xiao | firstname.lastname@example.org