There may soon be some changing in the dining options at Wayside Commons.
Thomas Wilder of The Wilder Companies out of Boston, the company that handles management and leasing at Wayside Commons was at last night's Planning Board meeting to discuss the proposed venue changes.
Wilder said that the Wayside management is looking to bring three new restaurants to the plaza, Bonefish Grille, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Season's 52. The new restaurants would not require the building of any additional buildings in the commons. Wilder said Bonefish Grille would be in the current location, Potbelly will go in the current Fresh City location and Season's 52 will be placed in the second-floor location where .
"We're excited to bring in some fresh operations and bring something new to Burlington," Wilder said. "These three places are new to New England so they will put Wayside Commons on the map."
The potential schedule if all is approved, Wilder explained, is to conduct modifications for the new spots this spring through the summer for possible openings this year. The old Borders location for Season's 52 will require more extensive work so the restaurant may open later than the other two restaurants.
Wilder added that management at Wayside has had issues with Ginger Pad and Fresh City and that they have the right not to renew their leases.
Members of the Planning Board seemed very receptive to the new restaurants, however there was some debate over the parking situation, which must be resolved before the projects can go forward.
John Hart, senior associate of SMMA, the architecture and engineering company that is working on the plans for the changes, explained that the new restaurants, under Burlington's zoning laws, require an additional 94 parking spaces.
Hart, Wilder and attorney Robert Buckley of of Reimer and Braunstein, explained that in their estimation the new restaurants will actually require only 51 additional parking spaces, because peak traffic times of the different businesses vary, alleviating congestion. The group proposed the additional spaces be 'put in reserve' or possible placed behind the main building for employee use.
However, with the current layout of Wayside Commons, finding space for the additional 51 spots is proving complicated. At the meeting Wilder, Hart and Buckley proposed a plan that included rotating a big section of the parking alignment and adding spaces facing the main plaza buildings. Members of the Planning Board offered no objections on changing the layout of the main parking lot, but some were resistant to front-in spaces in front of the building.
Member Ann Cummings expressed her view, which was echoed by most of the other members.
"I’m not comfortable with the head-in spaces," she said. "When this center was brought before us, it was supposed to be an inviting location that would allow you to see the shops. If you put cars in front of them you won't be able to see them. Also, what if someone steps on the gas when they meant to hit the brakes, they will end up in a storefront."
Other members added that having spaces that, if motorists park facing in, will require them to back out into the main traffic avenue around the inside of the plaza increases the risk of accidents.
Wilder said the group would re-evaluate the parking proposal to see if they could limit or erase the head-in parking spaces. The proposal was continued to the March 15 meeting.
After the meeting Wilder said he appreciated the feedback from the board members and was looking forward to returning for further discussion.
"People live and breath Wayside Commons and I think its important to listen to all feedback and respond," he said.
A big about the proposed restaurants
- According to Bonefish Grille's website, the Florida-based restaurant offers a variety of grilled and sauteed seafood options, a variety of appetizers and a full bar. The restaurant is also dedicated dedicated to responsible fishing practices and the healthy stewardship of the world's marine resources, according to the site.
- According to the Potbelly Sandwich Shop website, the Chicago-based company began in 1977 as a small antique store run by a nice young couple who decided to boost their sales by selling sandwiches. The sandwich shop, with quick service, offers a variety of hot and cold sandwich options made from fresh cut meats and vegetables. The store also offers cookies, milk shakes, soups and salads.
- According to the Season's 52 website, the higher-end restaurant offers a variety of seasonally-inspired menu options. Entrees include Cedar Plank Atlantic Salmon, Caramelized Sea Scallops, Garlic Chicken Flatbread, Roasted Crab-Stuffed Shrimp, Ripe Plum Tomato Flatbread, Grilled Rack of New Zealand Lamb and the Char Crust Filet Mignon.
What do you think? Are you excited about the proposed restaurants? Will you be sad to see Ginger Pad and Fresh City leave? Let us know in the comments section below.