A restaurateur is planning to open a new high-end Indian restaurant in the corridor between Broadway’s Yale Booskstore and the Apple Store, at the site of the shuttered Thali Too, a vegetarian Indian eatery that closed in 2017.
He plans to get a liquor license. But, he said, his people will be very well-behaved — so he doesn’t see why he’d have to close up at 11:30 p.m.
The restaurateur, Ankit Harpaldas, made that pitch Tuesday night to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) at its monthly meeting in the Hall of Records.
He was seeking a special exception from the zoners for a full restaurant liquor license. But he wanted the zoners to remove a suggested proviso that he close before midnight.
BZA’s commissioners agreed with his argument, and granted him his wish.
The proposed use of the property is identical with Thali Too, whose chef and owner Pradad Chirnomula also ran Thali on Orange Street and Oaxaca Kitchen on College Street for a combined good run of ten years.
Although Thali Too also sold alcohol, the special exception is needed because when ownership changes, the license is returned to the state’s Liquor Control Office, and must be applied for by the new operator.
None of that was at issue during the brief appearance before the BZA by Harpaldas, who also owns Dhaba Wala, an Indian restaurant in Hartford.
The City Plan staff report, which was before the BZA commissioners, had recommended an approval of the project in the Yale-owned building but cited one condition: hours. Namely that the daily hours of operation be limited to from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m..
That went against Harpaldas’ initial request, which was to be permitted to remain open on Thursdays until midnight and on Friday and Saturday until 1:30 a.m.
“I’m a restaurant owner, not a club owner. We’re going to run a high-end Indian restaurant. All I ask is if we have a busy night that we don’t have to throw them out,” he said.
Commissioner Sarah Locke asked why that condition was included as part of City Plan’s approval of the special exception.
Deputy Director for Zoning Tom Talbot answered that inn BA zones like this one, “it’s policy to limit hours due to the adjacency of residences. The hour were reduced out of consistency” with that policy he said.
Then he added: “This B.A. is different,” because there are no residences in the immediate area except, for the most part, Yale student housing. A lot of those students stay up late.
Harpaldas said that Yale, the landlord, is OK with the hours being later as had been requested.
BZA Commision Chair Pat King queried Harpaldas about the early, 7 a.m. hours of opening. She said that didn’t seem consistent with the establishment being a “high-end Indian restaurant.”
Harpaldas replied that he would like to serve coffee and breakfast to the Yale students and community. He said no alcohol would be served.
Talbot reflected on his long experience reviewing zoning issues in New Haven to say that applicants sometimes put in their applications hours of operation for a restaurant, for example, that they think the commissioners will like. That sometimes comes back to bite the applicant, he added, if a restaurant wants to change hours, necessitating another appearance before the board.
“If you don’t see a reason to regulate hours,” Talbot counseled the commisioners, “don’t.”
King made a motion to eliminate the condition regarding hours. Then she moved to approve the special exception, and the issue was passed unanimously with the votes of the other commissioners, Al Paolillo, Sr., Ann Stone, and Sarah Locke.