MERIDEN — Construction is underway on a new outdoor patio at a Grove Street bar after the Planning Commission signed off on the project Wednesday night.
Mr. Bentley’s Cafe hopes to serve drinks to patrons outside by the end of the summer.
“We’re just trying to get rid of the trouble makers and get a better crowd,” said bar owner Anthony Pellegrino. “Now they don’t have to smoke in front of the building. Now they have seating behind the fence… I think it will make a big difference.”
The 190 Grove St. bar purchased the adjacent empty parcels at 194 and 198 Grove St. from the city for $5,000 in April. Pellegrino plans to use part of the space to construct the patio and the remainder for a small parking lot for patrons and those renting apartments above the bar. Pellegrino also hopes to add a kitchen this winter and begin serving food.
City Planner Bob Seale said Pellegrino initially applied for both the patio and parking lot, but separated the applications after learning he would need to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the parking lot.
“The parking lot was not ready for any kind of action. We had some questions and issues about locations and construction,” Seale said. “He will have to come back and refile for the parking lot.”
The Planning Commission unanimously approved Pellegrino’s application for the patio Wednesday. No members of the public spoke against the application. Seale hopes the patio will be an asset to the neighborhood.
“We always want to support our local businesses,” Seale said. “Neighborhood businesses can become an anchor institution at times. With this one in particular, I think people like to be able to be outside, especially during the spring, summer and fall while they are patronizing this business.”
Pellegrino hopes to have the patio complete by August and is planning a neighborhood block party to celebrate. The date is to be determined.