It’s not often that residents applaud a developer, but many North Buffalo residents said – literally – “Welcome to the neighborhood,” to the European-trained chef who wants to open a Deep South Taco on Hertel Avenue.
But the love fest was not unanimous, and some who live closest to the proposed site of the restaurant at the corner of Starin Avenue still had questions about the amount of noise that would be generated by the outdoor eating area.
“I’m here to compromise on a lot of different things,” Deep South Taco owner Richard Hamilton told a standing-room crowd Tuesday evening at a public meeting in the North Buffalo Community Center on his proposal.
Hamilton, a former Delaware North executive who said he has opened close to 300 restaurants, presented plans for toned-down colors on the exterior of the building, which is the current site of a vacant Fast Track Quick Lube. He also owns Deep South Taco on Ellicott Street.
Hamilton said he expects about 70 percent of sales to be generated from food, and 30 percent from the bar.
Seating for 86 is planned inside the building, with room for 120 outside. An interior bar will have 12 seats and the exterior bar will have 12 seats, he said. Hours would be 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, with a 1 a.m. closing planned on Friday and Saturday.
“We’re not a bar. I don’t know how to make money in a bar,” he said.
He wants to place six vintage 1970s speakers outside, and music would be honkytonk and Southern, he said. He will not apply for a permit for live music outside, he said.
“I like the warm, ambient tones,” he said.
Although Hamilton got strong rounds of applause, several neighbors are concerned about potential noise and parking problems. One was concerned about possible noise from an exterior video screen, where Hamilton said he plans to show Bills and Sabres games.
“The neighbors are going to hear noise,” one man said. “I’ll be able to hear.”
He left in disgust, as residents shouted him down when he suggested the owner is in business to make money, not offer a service to the neighborhood.
“Where your land is, maybe would be nice if it was another bank, but this man wants to go and do his business. Think of what that property has looked like for last few years. It looks awful,” said Starin Avenue resident Robert Barrali. “So, if you keep the noise down, it’s OK with me.”
Some remained skeptical.
“I’m going to leave here still a little bit concerned about the noise, more than a little bit concerned, less than I was coming in,” said Christopher Marcello, who lives on Wallace Avenue.
He said he is “willing to be convinced.”
Matt Vanvessem of Wingate Avenue said he was looking for more commitment to addressing neighbors’ concerns, and did not get that Tuesday night.
But they were in the minority.
“I live on Wellington, just south of Hertel. Lloyd Taco just opened, Empty Pockets is at my corner. That’s why I moved to the city,” one woman said to applause.
Tuesday’s meeting was organized by the Hertel Business Association and Delaware Council Member Joel Feroleto.