Commercial Zoning Ordinance; An Issue for Restaurants

Restaurant owners, with an attached parking lot, are still being affected by parking regulations in Nassau County.

“There is so much that needs to be taken into consideration before opening up a restaurant,” said an ex-owner of a restaurant, Harry Yanakis. Yanakis said an entrepreneur must always take into consideration how parking plays a role for their business because it affects how many seats a business could have. Restaurants in Nassau County that have parking lots must follow a law called The Commercial Zoning Ordinance. According to Chapter 732 of the Commercial Zoning Ordinance, in Section 211-Off Street Parking, for every four seats in a restaurant, there must be a parking spot provided. “I understand that there were certain intentions for this law, but it makes things difficult on my business. It limits the amount of seating I can have in my restaurant,” said Carle Place Diner owner George Angelakis.

If a restaurant has 100 seats for customers, then there must be 25 parking spots. This law takes into account the average amount of individuals that go to a restaurant together. When speaking with Angelakis, he did not seem to agree with the zoning law.

He said that lunch hours are a very busy time of day for them at the diner because of the offices and other businesses located around the area. “A lot of customers come in to eat during our lunch hours. A party of six or even 10 people will come, and many times with separate cars taking up a lot of our parking,” said Angelakis. When customers come in with separate cars, it fills up the parking lot faster, leaving more seats open for other customers.

The issue is, when customers see a full parking lot in a restaurant, they may just leave and go somewhere else. “There were actually a few times when I went to shop at a store or even eat a diner and saw that the parking lot was full. I just pulled out and went somewhere else, “said Nassau County resident John Horton. In some areas there is the possibility of looking for side street parking that may be close by. Unfortunately, many areas like 151 Old Country Road, Nassau County, which is the location of the Carle Place Diner, do not have the option of side street parking.

Thomas Diner, which is located on 325 Old Country Road, is greatly affected by the Commercial Zoning Ordinance. This diner is a small “old style” restaurant that has been in business for about 30 year years. The main issue is that, because of their small property, they have a small parking lot. This restricts the owners from having more seating in the restaurant.

“I would love to come here more often but there is not enough seating in the diner. It fills up really quickly,” said Michael Mueller. Mueller used to be a steady customer at Thomas Diner. He said he really can only make it there on weekends with his family, but unfortunately it fills up way too fast and parking is limited at the restaurant.

Aside from having to provide a parking spot for every four seats in a restaurant, there is also another aspect to the Commercial Zoning Ordinance. The law states that there must be one parking spot provided for each employee with the longest work shifts. “I have at least three or four waiters with 12 hour work shifts on a Saturday and Sunday morning. That takes up about four parking spots in the lot,” said Angelakis.

He said that Saturday and Sundays are the busiest days at the diner and with this law, parking becomes more limited and a growing issue.

 

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