CAPE ELIZABETH — After 50 years, Rudy’s on the Cape will finally get its much-awaited make-over.
The Planning Board Tuesday night unanimously approved plans for a new 80-seat restaurant and a retail building at 517 Ocean House Road.
Pat Carroll of Carroll Associates, representing owner Paul Woods Jr., said there were no major changes to the plan, but there is additional buffering between the building and the neighbors on Davis Point Road.
“We feel pretty strongly given the existing fencing, the existing trees, and the new proposed vegetation in this area that we’ve really done a pretty effective job of buffering this area,” he said.
The additional buffering was added to the plan after neighbors complained about noise and light from the parking lot area.
The plan to tear down and rebuild Rudy’s won’t happen until next spring, Carroll said. The new restaurant will have 80 seats – 52 inside and 28 in a seasonal, covered porch area.
The Planning Board also approved a second, 1,240 square-foot retail building that will be built on the property in a second phase.
Carroll said there is no tenant for the retail space yet, but the use is acceptable in the Business District, or BA zone. When a tenant comes forward, Carroll said the second building will be constructed. In the meantime, the second lot will be a green area, buffered from Davis Point Road.
The existing Rudy’s restaurant is one story and about 2,680 square feet. The new restaurant will be about 500 square feet smaller on the first floor and have a 900-square-foot second floor.
The restaurant, which recently reopened after being closed during an ownership transition, will have a mix of booths and tables, an eight-seat bar and a take-out area. The second floor will include office and storage spaces, and a small bathroom.
According to the plan, the restaurant will be moved closer to Davis Point Road and a 39-space parking lot will be constructed. The wide entrance along Ocean House Road will be limited to a single narrow entrance and exit across from Broad Cove Road. There will be a curb, sidewalk and landscaping along Route 77.
The building has been designed by architect Phil Kaplan of Kaplan Thompson Architects in Portland to have clapboard siding, shingle details, solar panels and a lower level of aluminum metal siding.
Kaplan said the intent of the design is to create a well lit, transparent building.
But most of the concern from abutters and residents in the area still focused on buffering, noise and traffic.
Morris Kreitz of 524 Ocean House Road said he was concerned about the buffer and parking, but also said the BA zone is inappropriate for the area. He said the new development could potentially cause more traffic and noise in the neighborhood.
“I’d be more excited about (a retail space) if it was happening in the Town Center where I would expect to find retail in town,” he said. “It strikes me as absurd that this kind of density and development is being permitted and encouraged out in this neighborhood out by Broad Cove Road.”
Joseph Foley of 5 Ocean House Road agreed that the buffering as proposed is not adequate, and said the new restaurant design is not compatible with buildings in the area. He also voiced concern about noise, parking and hours of operation.
While Rudy’s closing time is 9 p.m., when the new building is constructed the closing time will be 10 p.m. The business, according to the zoning ordinance, is permitted to remain open until 11 p.m. three nights a year, as long as the code enforcement officer receives notice seven days in advance. Businesses do not need to notify neighbors of the later hours.
Rudy’s manager Catie Fairbanks-Cliffe of 82 Ocean House Road said the new restaurant design is a huge improvement over the current building.
“Rudy’s gives me and 11 other employees a job. It is part of this community,” she said. “We sit amongst the local fire fighters, farmers, doctors and lawyers. We, the locals and employees and regulars, all make up Rudy’s. We will hire high school kids, college kids and moms like me who have kids in college. All of this for this beautiful building is simply what is best for the Cape.”
Board member Liza Quinn said the new Rudy’s restaurant is an improvement and the applicant has gone beyond what was asked of him.
“I think we are lucky that the applicant is spending this much money on such a nice plan,” she said.
Carroll said he was pleased with the Planning Board approval and said now the plans can be finalized. With a few conditions of approval to be completed, a building permit and a performance guarantee, the crew is “on the road to make it happen,” he said.
“We anticipate it may take about three months to get everything together – the financing and final details,” Carroll said. “The intent is to keep Rudy’s in place until the start of construction in March.”
In other business, Carol Anne Jordan was elected chairwoman of the Planning Board.
An artist rendering of the recently-approved renovation plans for Rudy’s on the Cape, 517 Ocean House Road.