Sloppy Joe’s expansion on hold after new hurdle appears
Not enough room for more parking stalls to meet Richfield ordinance

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

Dec. 8, 2017

For about 18 months, the co-owners of Sloppy Joe’s Saloon and Spoon in Richfield have been working with village officials on a proposed nearly 1,500-square-foot addition to the historic building at 3723 Hubertus Road. They have cleared many hurdles so far in the process. The proposal was to be on the agenda for Thursday night’s meeting of the Richfield Plan Commission, but was pulled after it was announced an additional hurdle needs to be cleared for the project to move to ahead.

Co-owners Joe and Ellen Hennes have proposed a significant expansion of their business’ dining room, along with a roof-top patio. A 27-foot addition to the east and south are proposed to be constructed along with additional kitchen space to the south and two-story seating to the east of the building that is more than 100 years old. According to documents submitted with the proposal, on the north elevation of the proposed addition would be two roll-up garage doors to create three-season space for customers. Sloppy Joe’s opened its doors in 2003.

“We need more space for people to dine and for preparing the meals,” Joe said earlier. “We are really growing and we need to do this to keep up with that growth.”

Hennes said he is extremely frustrated by how long the process is taking.

“Some of the calculations and interpretations of the code that have been presented to me are absolutely ludicrous for the space that we are talking about here,” Hennes said. “I was told I need to have seating for 286 people at my restaurant and currently our occupancy is 70 and all we’re looking to do is enclose our patio and have a small space above that patio for more seating.”

With the new roadblock that he was just made aware of, Hennes said it could kick his timeline to where we basically has six months to complete the project.

“I can’t afford to have my patio and sidewalks torn up during the warm months of June forward because that is normally our busiest time of the year,” Hennes said. “Our sales are practically double in the summer over what they are in the winter and we can’t afford to lose the summer seating.”

Village Administrator Jim Healy said the village must follow regulations.

“In the village restaurants and bars must meet a parking standard of one parking stall per 100 square feet of the building. His expansion is something around 1,500 square feet which means he would have to add 15 more parking stalls to meet the demand for parking because of increased business due to the expansion,” Healy said. “Cars are already lined up all over the area there during business hours. He does not have the additional space on the property to add the new stalls.”

Healy said the business’s owners have few options.

“He could secure a private parking agreement with an adjacent property owner but he hasn’t been successful in doing that,” Healy said. “One of the things I want to look at is the parking restrictions in other communities for restaurants and bars because when we talked with our consultant planner and our village attorney they said they were pretty vanilla.”

The Sloppy Joe’s item was originally on Thursday night’s agenda because the owners were seeking a “special exception” to allow the project to move ahead because it would not be possible otherwise after it was discovered the expansion of the legal non-conforming building was not permitted due to existing rules and regulations. The owners were also seeking approval of the site grading and erosion control plan for the project.

Hennes said what’s truly frustrating is, that while he truly feels that Healy is advocating strongly on his behalf, it’s over-complication of the process that stopping him from moving ahead.

“The village speaks that they are very pro business, but the pieces that are in place are absolutely counterproductive,” Hennes said. “I’m hanging on by a thread in consideration of putting my business up for sale and moving it elsewhere. Does that not sound extremely, extremely wrong?”

The Sloppy Joe’s property abuts the land now occupied by the St. Gabriel School. The church is in the process of having a proposed expansion of church related buildings and construction of a new school on the church grounds adjacent to Highway 164. That would leave open the possibility of the land or a portion of the land being sold or leased for Sloppy Joe’s to have the needed added parking stalls, but completion of the new school might not happen for two years. It’s also unknown if the parties could reach a deal for such an arrangement.

“I’ve got a call in to Jim Healy at the village. There’s been some discussions about amending ordinances and or the code that is currently restricting the parking that is required of me,” Hennes said. I’m going to also discuss with them the details of my time line to be able to consider amending the ordinance.

“The thing that I am facing once again and was facing exactly one year ago, is that I was trying to get this same exact construction project passed before the U.S. Open and we were facing winter and that complicates things with digging holes in the ground and pouring concrete as you face winter,” Hennes said.

Hennes said he is trying to work through this latest hurdle and has contacted the state for possible assistance.

“I have a call into the state that I am working with a lady who is involved with business development in the state who is supposed to be helpful in situations like this where local municipalities are stopping the growth of local businesses,” Hennes said.

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