A handful of condo dwellers on Bryant Street have so far been successful in blocking a new restaurant and beer garden proposed for 895 Villa Street, but applicant Ted Kim is asking for the City Council to reverse the decision before summer break.
Kim says he will pay a $2,500 fee by June 1 to appeal the ruling by Zoning Administrator Peter Gilli, who cited neighbor concerns about noise in capping the proposed restaurant's patio use to 6 p.m. half the year and 8 p.m. the other half.
"It would be a huge part of our business we'd be losing," Kim told the Voice. The business would not be viable without the patio open for dinner, he said. He had already reduced the patio's size from 160 to 64 seats and moved the restaurant's entrance off Bryant Street.
Kim says it's been his dream for five years to open a "German-inspired American rendition of a beer garden," and says the Villa Street location was seen as the perfect spot after a year-and-a-half-long search. He plans to invest $1 million in the restaurant and hire over 60 employees to serve "gourmet comfort food" and "high-end beer." And he's recruited an award-winning chef, he said.
The proposal was effectively blocked by a handful of neighbors in the 20 unit-condo complex at 230 Bryant Street, some of whom attended the May 9 administrative zoning hearing. They complained about existing problems with the Monte Carlo night club, whose patrons spill out into the parking lot behind 895 Villa at 2 a.m. and are known to urinate, fight and litter near the condos.
"Until the noise problem at present levels is mitigated, I wouldn't want to expand alcohol licenses," said 230 Bryant Street resident David Lynn.
"I personally don't want listen to 64 people talking outside my bedroom window seven days a week," said another resident, Michelle Lynn.
Roger Koa, the owner of 895 Villa, was incensed by the comments.
"Stein's Beer garden hasn't opened yet," Koa said. "How can you complain they are noisy?"
Comparisons were made to the Tied House next door, as it has an outdoor patio behind it facing another condo complex at 108 Bryant Street. Kim says he wants the same hours as the Tied House, which is open until 10 p.m. most nights, and 11 p.m. on Fridays. Lynn claimed he could hear people cheering at the Tied House Patio during hockey games. "I like the Sharks but sometimes my child is trying to sleep," he said.
"It would be a nice addition to downtown," said Cliff, a resident of 108 Bryant. "It's not a club, it's not a bar, it's a restaurant. They serve high quality beer. It's not Budweiser and people are not doing keg stands. With the amount of tax money it would bring, it would help the city."
"I don't like going to crowded, obnoxious bars on Castro Street," said one resident who didn't give a name. "If Stein's is not invited into our community, people will continue to go elsewhere, including myself."
"I feel very strongly that this new tenant should be treated in a welcoming way," said downtown resident Julie Lovins. "I live across the street from a beer garden that seats 100 on the patio. We never hear them, they are wonderful neighbors."
At least one neighbor may be willing to compromise.
"To me, 9 o'clock does seem somewhat appropriate, rather than 11," said Kristen Yee, adding that a 10 p.m. closing time on weekends also seems acceptable.
Gilli said the staff had come up with the proposed 7 p.m. closing time, which was modified to allow the patio to be open until 8 p.m. only during half the year when the days are longer, and 6 p.m. the other half.
Gilli said it would be irresponsible for Kim to invest up to $1 million on the project if there were just going to be problems with neighbors. "If Tied House were coming in right now, they to go through exactly the same thing," Gilli said.
Kim said that such hours for the patio would be a deal-breaker. "We cannot have a viable business under these terms," he said.
Neighbors said Sonoma Chicken Coop spent much of a year looking at the property, and so did six other businesses, Kim said.
"Sonoma Chicken Coop was told the same thing the outdoor dining is going to be a problem," Gilli said.