New restaurant planned for Portland West End neighborhood
PORTLAND — A 45-seat restaurant serving "New American comfort food" may be coming to 211 Danforth St. in the city's West End.
Keith Hickman, of Portland and New York City, expects to close Nov. 1 on the $440,000 purchase of the one-story building, now the site of Vespucci's variety store.
Hickman and business partner Josh Kaplan hope to open the restaurant by next summer, after moving the store to the rear of the building, where it would continue to operate.
But Hickman and Kaplan first needed permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The site is within a B-1 Neighborhood Business zone, which allows restaurants if they meet certain conditions.
Kaplan appeared before the board Oct. 17 seeking conditional-use permission for the restaurant. Although a some neighbors expressed concerns about restaurant patrons aggravating the lack of parking in the area, board Chairman Gordon Smith pointed out that because the building is within a designated historic area, Hickman and Kaplan were not obligated to provide off-street parking.
The board unanimously approved the restaurateurs' conditional-use application.
Plans for the restaurant, which is simply dubbed "211 Danforth" for now, are still preliminary. They call for a 10-seat bar, about a dozen tables and 990 square feet of dining space.
"We firmly believe that there is a need and a market available for a quality and affordable neighborhood dining option in this area," Hickman wrote in the application.
If 211 Danforth opens, it would join another new dining destination in the neighborhood. Outliers Eatery, an upscale restaurant at 231 York St., opened this summer. And another restaurant has been proposed for a dilapidated building next door at 227 York St.
But those plans were put on hold earlier this year after the building's owners failed to secure the required amount of off-street parking.
After the meeting, Kaplan said he and Hickman must complete extensive renovations on 211 Danforth St. before they can open the restaurant. The work will include upgrading the building's exterior, where paint is fading and peeled.
"We want to do this right," he said.