Garvan McCloskey, owner of Garvan’s Gastropub on Huguenot Street, is looking to make some changes to settle in for the outdoor dining that could be becoming the norm. McCloskey would like to erect a 12-by-10-foot shed outside that will be used for storing of furniture and other items so that servers don’t always need to walk all the way back inside to get everything ready for the next diners. The application also includes a request to extend the right to have outdoor dining that came as an emergency pandemic authorization, and also a proposal to build a 256-square-foot deck for Maggie Mae’s, the eatery that has replaced Upstairs on 9 at the site.
The area outside of Garvan’s is spacious enough to allow plenty of room between tables, and apparently that attention to safety takes its toll on service. McCloskey said that safety remains the overarching concern, and that reopening is being undertaken cautiously: approval has been received for 75% capacity, but they remain at 50% in an abundance of caution. There are just 20 outdoor tables, McCloskey said, with an average of 2.6 guests in each group seated for a meal. The prefabricated shed “won’t be an eyesore,” McCloskey promised, and will be placed on a bed of gravel. There are no plans to add any sort of flooring to the outdoor eating area, and the only parties scheduled occur during the afternoon on weekends.
“I’m coming cap in hand,” McCloskey told Town of New Paltz Planning Board members last week, referencing the financial difficulties faced by restaurateurs during this pandemic, and framing this as a simple fix to help make ends meet. While McCloskey is well regarded about town, though, there are rules that must be followed and this application is going to cost more than perhaps was desired. Board members appeared to appreciate the position McCloskey is in, but as approvals are linked to the property and not the applicant, they have to figure out how to word whatever they approve so that it doesn’t result in unintended consequences in the future. Depending on how it’s phrased, this approval could permanently expand the amount of seating for this or future restaurants at the site. That complexity means that the escrow is set at $4,000, and is why town engineer Andy Willingham pressed for more detailed plans than the meticulous sketches McCloskey provided.
Board chair Adele Ruger noted that there are a number of waivers from application requirements that McCloskey could reasonably request, but without more specifics on the plan it would be difficult to rule on any of them. The old survey that McCloskey used refers to structures that are no longer there, such as a motel with swimming pool. For board members to understand what’s being asked, Willingham said, all of that must go so that can easily agree that McCloskey doesn’t need details like lines showing the topography and a tabular chart of site uses. Willingham agreed to help McCloskey identify a low-cost option for complying with these requests.