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Outdoor tables OK'd for Martinsburg restaurant

July 31, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Want some sunshine with that steak? A breeze with the fried oysters?

Diners who enjoy partaking in outdoor air while eating can soon do so at the Market House Grill, at the corner of Queen and Burke streets in Martinsburg. On Wednesday night, City Council members unanimously approved a request to put a few tables outside of the restaurant.

Wearing chef's garb, Bruce Monforte answered questions from council members about his plan. Downtown might benefit, he said, because the tables could attract people to the city.

"It's going to really give downtown a little amibiance," said Monforte, the restaurants's owner/manager.

Monforte said he plans to put as many as six tables on the Queen Street sidewalk.

Under an ordinance, if tables are placed outside of a restaurant at least 4 feet of sidewalk space must remain unobstructed.

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The tables that Monforte plans to install are small - "not much bigger than the podium" - he said as he stood before council members. At least 6 feet of open space will separate diners from the street, he added.

Monforte said that he and a hostess will make sure only customers sit at the tables. Alcoholic drinks will not be served to outdoor diners.

Councilman Gregg Wachtel, who said other cities successfully offer outdoor dining, called the plans a great idea.

Another restaurant on Queen Street, Rebecca's Deli & Coffee, has a few tables outside. Those are enclosed in a small fenced patio.

At the same meeting, Monforte told council members that the air conditioning system in the building, which is owned by the city and leased out, is inadequate and should be replaced at the city's expense.

If he were to leave, Monforte said, he could take the air conditioners with him because they were considered personal property when he took over the restaurant earlier this year. If he did that, the city would need to replace them anyway, he argued.

Councilman Max Parkinson countered that because the air conditioners are attached to the building, they are not private property.

The lease for the restaurant indicates that any improvements, minus those needed for the roof, are not the city's responsibility.

Council members referred the air conditioning matter to a committee for further discussion.

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