Zoning Hassle for Three Dining Tables
Owners of La Chapparita are willing to make significant renovations to bring back dining tables to their bodega.
The owners of a Shrewsbury Avenue bodega want to bring back a few dining tables to their establishment, the same tables that occupied a section of their store for years before Red Bank ordered them away for a zoning violation.
Before the Red Bank Zoning Board, this time with an application for a variance to allow for the tables and other upgrades, La Chaparrita’s owners are finding that it’s not as easy as asking politely.
Seeking variances to bring back the tables, add on a minor expansion to create more storage space and expand the kitchen, the zoning board has started adding to a list of conditions the store’s owners will have to abide by if they’re granted approval. Among the conditions they’re considering is the removal of an assortment of large equipment and a broken trailer located at the rear of the site, adding landscaping, and the addition of a handicapped parking space.
Getting those tables back could likely make it worthwhile.
“We had tables. We didn’t have a permit and that’s why we’re here today,” Laura Camargo, speaking before the board on behalf of her father, owner of Camargo Real Estate, LLC. “People really like to have something quick (to eat) during lunch and dinner. They’ve grown to like our food and they want to see (the tables) come back.”
According to Camargo, La Chaparrita, though it does offer a small selection of market staples, specializes in its takeout offerings. With more than 90 percent of the bodega’s clientele comprised of people who walk to the store, it’s especially important to have a place to sit and eat available for patrons, she said.
The expanded kitchen will allow the bodega to run more efficiently and be more productive. The small expansion will also allow for more storage, but it’s the tables, Camargo said, that are the most important part of the application.
La Chaparrita lost its tables during a perhaps ill-advised objection to Juanito’s Market a year ago. Juanito’s Market, a much larger market designed to compete with the likes of Super Foodtown as the neighborhood’s grocery destination, needed several variances to open. Camargo objected on the grounds that the new market would threaten the business of several nearby bodegas like La Chaparrita. During her objection she mentioned the shop’s tables, which drew questions from the board as to whether they were allowed there.
A couple of days later, Camargo said, borough officials came to inspect the bodega and ordered the tables put away.
Should La Chaparrita agree to the Zoning Board’s list of demands it’s likely the tables will make a return, however. Board member Rosemay Minear called the property “overall unsightly,” and used the forum to make some recommendations for conditions that could improve the business and the neighborhood.
“The site is in dire need of improvements,” she said. “This is a terrific chance to improve the property.”
Testimony for the application will likely conclude at the board’s Sept. 20 meeting.