The Buffalo Common Council approved a new restaurant in Allentown on Tuesday, allowing a conditional 4 a.m. closing time that will be reviewed after one year.
The Allentown Association wanted an earlier 2 a.m. closing time for the planned Fallie Allen restaurant at 204 Allen St. Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk, whose district includes Allen Street, considered that reasonable, but in the end suggested the Council consider the later closing time with the approved stipulation.
“It’s a great compromise,” Council President Darius Pridgen said.
“I’m pretty happy, obviously, to show we’re running it as the establishment we said we would, with no issues or problems,” restaurateur Joseph Gugino said.
Fallie Allen would combine 204 and 206 Allen St., encompassing the former La Tee Da restaurant and Rust Belt Books. Chef Christopher Daigler, currently of Bourbon & Butter, would be a partner and run the kitchen.
Gugino agreed to close the patio by 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends, and not have live music or dancing. He still needs to sign a lease and obtain a liquor license before Fallie Allen can go forward, but said the Council’s decision was a big step forward.
“There are more hurdles to cross, but it feels good to put this one behind us,” Gugino said.
Franczyk said the Allentown Historic District has a special zoning ordinance that seeks a blend of commercial enterprises, and wasn’t intended to be so heavily weighted toward drinking establishments.
“We want to protect the viable character of the community,” he said, before adding, “I wish nothing but success for this applicant.”
Gugino said financial calculations for an 80-seat upscale restaurant required the later bar closing, but he also felt he shouldn’t be singled out when others up and down the street close at 4 a.m.
“How would making Fallie Allen close at 2 make Allen Street quieter, when there’s seven other bars open west of Elmwood Avenue?” Gugino asked.
Andrew Eisenhardt, the Allentown Association’s executive director, said later closing times need to change. He said there were 57 liquor licenses in Allentown in just 32 square blocks.
“We are concerned about quality of life for the 4,000 residents of Allentown,” Eisenhardt said.
“Many of our constituents have asked that there be zero new liquor licenses issued.”
He said the Allentown Association “could live with” the decision, since the 4 a.m. closing time could be revisited in a year. But Eisenhardt felt the Council should have insisted on an earlier closing time.
“I think the Council today has set a very bad precedent. We always thought the ‘special-use district’ meant just that – that the Council could impose pretty much any restrictions they wanted,” Eisenhardt said.
Franczyk said he was sympathetic to that argument, but his colleagues wanted to keep the 4 a.m. closing time.
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