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Parking an Obstacle for Westchester Burger's Bid to Restore Outdoor Seats

Mt. Kisco planners tell Westchester Burger Company its success means it must find space to accommodate the additional cars it attracts.

Two weeks by the Mount Kisco planning board, owner Vincent Corso apologized Tuesday for not promptly correcting a handful of site violations.

But Corso did not apologize for choosing his son’s little league game over the June 26 meeting. Nor, after almost 40 minutes of exchanges, did he leave with the board’s blessing for some sought-after outdoor dining.

The board, openly exasperated at the June meeting over what it deemed a lack of compliance with its demands, had ordered the restaurant’s limited outdoor seating, previously approved on a temporary basis, removed immediately.  

Any future al fresco seating, board Chairman Joseph Cosentino made clear Tuesday, would require adding parking spaces at the Westchester Burger site at 353 N. Bedford Rd., and it could come at the cost of some indoor dining capacity.

Corso and his property general manager, Michelle Bernal, stood a table’s width away from the board throughout the discussion, which also covered such site-compliance issues as repairs to guard-rail fencing, lighting and a side exit as well as a landscaping plan. Corso said the repairs had been addressed and landscaping—or its lack—sparked a brief discussion that was tabled pending a site visit.

Parking, however, remained the most intractable problem. Under state and village building codes, a restaurant’s seating is pegged to its square footage and parking capacity. Corso, quoting an unidentified fire department official, initially said Westchester Burger qualified as a 192-seat restaurant. Cosentino, however, put the total at 129, insisting, “That’s what the site plan says, 1-2-9.” 

The 129 figure was based on the restaurant’s current parking capacity, which Building Inspector Austin Cassidy puts at 48.

Cosentino noted that the restaurant’s popularity has created the parking issue.

“You run a good business there,” he told Corso. “You’re very successful with what you’re doing. We’re proud of you for doing that. The problem is parking.” He said that since the site’s previous dining spots, John's Best and , had not attracted as many customers, they did not need more than the lot’s four-dozen parking spaces.

“When 60, 70 cars come here, what do you do?” Cosentino asked. “The 24 cars that don’t fit in your lot, where do they go?”

Corso said he had started discussions to tap into the only other practical parking—25 spaces next door at the mattress outlet—but acknowledged that he had not yet acquired a written agreement.

The Sleepy’s website lists its closing time as 9 p.m. every night except Sunday, when doors close at 7p.m. But for Westchester Burger, Corso told the board, “The majority of our business starts at 5 and ends at 8:30.”

Some board members, especially Douglas Hertz and Vice-chairman Anthony Sturniolo, were critical of the restaurant’s lack of landscaping.

“Right now, it looks like Little House on the Prairie,” Sturniolo said.

Hertz agreed, saying, “What we see on the front of your building is a huge expanse of brick.”

Planning consultant Nanette Bourne suggested that the board visit the site  before taking up the matter again.

MAT July 11, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Did the town ever give such a hard time to 353 when it was there after John's Best? Doubt it! Considering the vacancies in the surrounding area not to mention all the hard work, money etc they put into making the building look SO much nicer, the town should really be more accommodating to this much needed restaurant.
Anna Jacobson July 12, 2012 at 01:07 AM
The Board of Mount Kisco needs to be more easy on Westchester Burger Company. I mean really, they're finding every little thing to pick on when to the rest of the community it wouldn't even come up as a problem. The landscaping looks like Little House on the Prairie? Give them a break! Sturniolo, I'd love to see how your house is landscaped for you to hold such high standards at a local Mount Kisco restaurant. What more can the town of Mount Kisco ask for? There are half a dozen other restaurants that the town should be concerned about for legitimate health code violations, but you're wasting your time on Westchester Burger Company because of what reason? For example, you should check out Mario's Pizza & Pasta and bring your evaluation sheets with you. The Board's "concern" for the town seems more like a personal attack on the restaurant. This restaurant's success has only improved the town of Mount Kisco, and the town should be more than thrilled to have a successful business like this in it. The Board should be doing everything they can to be supportive in order to continue the restaurant's success. As a part of the Mount Kisco community I am ashamed of how shallow minded our board members have been on this issue. The board members need to get off their soap box because Westchester Burger Company is the least of their worries.
10506er July 12, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I wholeheartedly agree with other commenters here - a new business comes to MTK and is doing well and the Town has to find a reason to nitpick? They employ residents and bring money to the Town, yet they get a handful of rules thrown at them. Seems backwards to me. It's hard enough to make it in the world of restaurants.
MAT July 12, 2012 at 12:30 PM
The previous restaurants were an eyesore! They should be thanking their lucky stars for all the work that went into this place looking a million times better! The town really does need to stop micromanaging such stupid stuff and working on dealing with the real traffic issues on Rt 117. I still cannot believe they are allowing two car washes across the street from each other!! There are so many unattractive buildings on 117 and so many vacancies. Stop sweating the small stuff like WBC and signage issues and put your energy into making the town thrive again!
JumpinJohn July 12, 2012 at 01:36 PM
You are all right! Town elders are blubbering about shuttered storefronts. Yet they are torturing these burger people. Imagine what outsiders who are thinking about doing business here! They are running for the hills! These type of regulations are what is strangling the American economy.
pauline schneider July 12, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Ditto to what everyone said in these posts. Also, are these the same board members who managed the rest of Mt Kisco's disastrous business ventures? Like Borders? What an eyesore that has been since it was allowed to arrive, displace all our decades old bookstores, and now sit vacant taking up a huge amount of valuable retail space that could be used positively for the community. And these guys want to pick on a business that is NOT a franchise pulling money out of the area? A business that is supporting local jobs? that is SUCCESSFUL? Something rare in these economic times. I remember the old Bazar mall and how the board managed that eyesore. They didn't! Are these the same folks that let that pile of bricks sit for decades, disgustingly managed by its owner, until another big box store, Target, came in and displaced our local mom and pop stores? Is that what they want? More Big box stores and franchise/chain restaurants? Is that who they suck up to? Stand by your local businesses, support the people who are from this area, bend over backwards to help them continue doing well. Stop throwing tacks in their path... We have a lousy economy that's doing enough of that. (shaking my head)
pauline schneider July 12, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Apparently this Hertz guy is a real "thumb tack in a chair" with people trying to open or run a business.... http://www.theexaminernews.com/tensions-fray-over-mt-kisco-preschool-playground-location/
Theresa July 12, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I'm still laughing over "The Little House on the Prairie" comment. Are you board members kidding? Another article referred to a suggestion by the board for more "green space" outside the restaurant. Please. Code violations are one thing, but nit picking is ridiculous. And "green space"? Get lives, already. You sound small. Btw, if you're looking for eyesores & real issues in the village, the burger place ain't it.
Theresa July 12, 2012 at 02:33 PM
They're pretty much all full of themselves.
JumpinJohn July 12, 2012 at 03:53 PM
We need to clean house and put people who are business friendly in place. Wonder how many of them own a business, and what their front lawns look like.
Donna July 12, 2012 at 05:45 PM
No wonder why businesses can't stay in business.
Christine P July 12, 2012 at 11:45 PM
I agree with what everyone has said - we should be encouraging business. The appearance now is far better than what it was in the past, I don't see what the fuss is about there.
Cathi B July 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Westchester Burger looks 1000 times better than the previous Restaurant. The planning board is way out of line with their comment.
Bea Rhodes July 16, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Yes, sounds like the Planning Board is not being too flexible here, in general Planning Boards seem to be omnipotent! What a shame, the renovations and the landscaping out front look very appealing. It’s really too bad that you can’t eat outdoors. I have been there once so far and really enjoyed dinner.

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