Da Legna Is Legit

Thomas MacMillan PhotoCity zoners made it legal for a State Street bar to serve drinks, but limited how late it can serve them.

That was the result of a unanimous vote by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) Tuesday evening.

The BZA voted to approve special zoning permissions for Da Legna restaurant, at the corner of State and Clark streets. The restaurant won permission to have a full liquor license and fewer parking spaces than regulations require—with some conditions.

Da Legna applied for those permissions after the city mistakenly signed off on permits allowing it to expand its operation in the wake of a fire that destroyed the restaurant in January, 2012.

Christopher Martin’s, a bar and restaurant across Clark Street had urged the BZA to deny Da Legna’s application, citing a lack of parking in the neighborhood.

The BZA’s approval came with five conditions: Da Legna has to close at 11:30 p.m. every night. It can’t have live entertainment or outside seating. The restaurant should look for off-site parking, with or without valet service. And it should install a bike rack, if possible.

“Eleven-thirty is a tough condition,” Da Legna manager Derek Bacon said after the vote. He said the prohibitions of live entertainment and outdoor seating aren’t “congruent with the rest of the establishments on the street.” He said “everybody else” in the area stays open until 1 or 2 a.m.

He said Da Legna will file another application to modify some of the conditions: “We’ll try to pursue them getting lifted.”

Thomas MacMillan Photo

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posted by: DingDong on April 10, 2013  11:50am

No outdoor seating?  This town needs more outdoor seating.  It keeps eyes on the street and it just makes the city a better place to live.

posted by: Noteworthy on April 10, 2013  1:14pm

At least the parking component is acceptable. This should be eliminated from all future applications unless it is new construction/or substantial rehab where off street parking can be accommodated. As for a ban on outdoor seating and having to close at 1130 - these are arbitrary and have no rational basis. How would you like to be a customer, order your food at 10 and be enjoying some post dinner conversation and drinks, and then be told, get out because Planning said we had to close now. Come on.

posted by: Stephen Harris on April 10, 2013  1:25pm

The 11:30 closing is unjustified. They did nothing wrong and got City approvals.

posted by: PH on April 10, 2013  1:37pm

I agree with DingDong.  New Haven absolutely needs more establishments with outdoor seating.  You could close the outdoor area after 11:30 if you’re worried about excessive noise, but banning outdoor seating on that wide sidewalk is just nonsensical.  And clearly the 11:30 booze cutoff is a blatant appeasement to Christopher Martin’s to limit competition!  Does CM’s also stop serving at 11:30?  If not, I can’t see noise being an argument for the 11:30 cutoff…

posted by: Scot on April 10, 2013  2:16pm

What’s the point in prohibiting outdoor seating? Outdoor seating seems like a positive thing to me.  Picture a street where lots of restaurants have outdoor seating, then picture a street where none of the restaurants have outdoor seating. What’s better?  I would even argue that outdoor seating helps the neighboring places like CM’s by making the street more vibrant, so more people want to come to the area in general.

posted by: Lisa on April 10, 2013  2:30pm

I have to agree that the no outdoor seating thing makes no sense.  CM’s has it, as does Dempsey, Cave Vin, the restaurant formerly known as Dolci (is it Press?) and Mezcal.  There is plenty of space on the sidewalk.  Seems a strange condition.

posted by: lrnoff on April 10, 2013  7:50pm

We went there for dinner this past Saturday night. The food was excellent and we’ll definitely be back. So glad the city did the right thing here, but I agree with the other posters that prohibiting outdoor seating and forcing them to stop serving at 11:30 are both illogical restrictions. I’d love to know their reasoning.

posted by: SB on April 11, 2013  1:05pm

11:30 closing is a clear appeasement to Chris Martins so they will face less competition for the bar crowd. It’s a bit surreal that the city would do so much just to make the owner of a little restaurant/bar happy. Clearly he has some serious pull - I mean, to be able to get the city to revoke someone’s permit - that’s some power. We all like hot wings and chicken fingers, but apparently someone at City Hall REALLY likes them. All kidding aside, it kind of stinks to “see behind the curtain” at how our city really runs.

posted by: SB on April 11, 2013  1:09pm

Also, “DaLegna is Legit” doesn’t quite capture the truth of the situation - it seems to suggest that City Hall gave them a thumbs up. Far from it. A better title may be “Cristopher Martin’s Wins”. So shady.