Friday, September 3, 2010

Marsha Brown restaurant expansion shot down by New Hope zoning board

By Charlie Sahner

An application by popular New Hope steak house Marsha Brown of 15 S. Main St. to add outdoor seating was stymied last night at a meeting of the borough's Zoning Hearing Board.

The proposal had been sent to the board following a split decision by New Hope's Borough Council on whether to recommend approval.

The meeting was well attended by residents, merchants and borough officials, and by the time it was over, the restaurant's request for 12 variances to facilitate the creation of an outdoor seating area for 24 patrons was denied entirely.

Marsha Brown manager and executive chef Caleb Lentchner was clearly disappointed in the decision.  "For five years we've done nothing but support the town as much as we could, and in our time of need Borough Hall turned their back on us," he said.

Noting that virtually every restaurant in New Hope has some type of limited outdoor seating arrangement, Lentchner asserted,  "Outdoor dining in front of our restaurant would form a small opportunity for us to have a fair chance during these warm summer days.

"We've been denied our ability to compete," he continued.

While not wishing to discuss potential next steps, Lentchner observed, "There's a very strong business community in New Hope, and we're supporting each other during these challenging economic times."

Requests for comment by borough officials were not immediately returned.

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