Partners want eatery at former bait shop

If three partners in a new venture get their way, White’s Bait Shop at the back of Texaco Alley in Greenport will give way to a restaurant serving seafood for on-site dining and takeout next spring.

Partners Richard Webley, his wife, Lucy, and Erin Fitzpatrick asked the Greenport Planning Board last Thursday to consider approving a dockside eatery, a conditional use in the waterfront commercial district.

“This is a notoriously difficult property,” Planning Board president Lara McNeil told the applicants. “It’s not going to fast-track through here.”

Three years ago, when property owner Cheryl Inzerillo was ready to rent the space to BBQ Bill’s for a fast-food operation, area restaurateurs came out in force to object. BBQ Bill’s operates a separate restaurant on Front Street, just east of the old schoolhouse, but other restaurateurs said the proposed fast-food operation would carry things they already offer and would cause problems with litter and parking. The proposal was eventually withdrawn.

This time, the three principals who would rent the property have proposed offering picnic baskets for boaters at the Mitchell Park Marina and anyone else who might want to picnic in the park. Just outside the door of the small building, they propose to set up six tables for waterside dining.

“I’m sure you’re applying for something that we’d all like to go to,” Ms. McNeil said. But she cautioned that the board would also want to consider whether the village needs another restaurant operation.

“What makes it a great location also makes it a very difficult location,” she said.

“We had a very messy summer here,” said board member Amy Martin, complaining about litter from customers of Ralph’s Ices.

“We’re very conscious of the integrity of the waterfront,” Mr. Webley said. Sensitive to board members’ concerns about litter, he said customers would have to pay a small fee for picnic baskets and the real silverware that would be included. That fee would be refunded when customers returned the baskets and cutlery.

“It’s a constrained area for table service,” board member David Bauer said, suggesting that it might be difficult to operate a restaurant with people walking through Texaco Alley.

Mr. Webley said he intended to use planters to mark the restaurant’s lot lines without creating high barriers.

The partners propose to operate from May through November, offering a light breakfast of coffee, tea, yogurt parfaits, baguettes and toast, Ms. Fitzpatrick said. Lunch would include sandwiches, salads, soup and various seafood-inspired dishes, all made with as much local produce as possible, she said. Dinner service would include only light fare, she said. The partners also propose serving a rotating list of local wines.

The partners expect to file a full application in January. A public hearing would be scheduled after the board reviewed the application.

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