HARWICH — The board of health has approved new operating procedures for a proposed new pub and cafe to be located in the current Red’s Pizza location in Harwich Center. The proponents are planning to purchase the business and establish the Seal Pub and Cafe at 703 Main St.
Red’s Pizza, at the intersection of Pleasant Lake Avenue and Main Street, has been operating for several years with a plastic and paper plate serving requirement because the septic system for the building is non-conforming.
The proposed new owners of the restaurant facilities, Robert Young, Adam Smith and Joshua Winston, are planning an early morning cafe and a premium wine and craft beer pub, but they are aware of the septic issues associated with the business and the building.
“The location has great potential for revitalization of Harwich Center,” Young told the health board. “It can be a great anchor business.”
But Young made it clear the paper and plastic, non-machine washable serving provision would be a major impediment. He said they are planning an upscale, quality food establishment.
The morning cafe would be primarily a take-out business with little water use. The pub would open at noon. The group would be willing to reduce the present 38 seats allowed for the business to 28 or 29 seats to reduce the impact on the septic system, said Young.
Young said he has done research with the town water department that shows the building's water use is 500 gallons or less a day. He indicated he would talk with current owner Brian Druker about installing low-flow toilets and a low-flow dishwasher that recycles water would be used. He also said an engineer will monitor conditions.
Young said under the plastic and paper use requirement in place all of the cups and plates used now end up in the town landfill.
“It’s all about flow,” Health Department Director Meggan Eldredge reminded the board. She said the septic provisions are driven by the state Department of Environmental Protection, adding that new restaurants are required to have a 1,000 gallons per day rating.
Young said there is no room for expansion on the property, and there has been discussion with officials from the neighboring church property about expanding the system there, but no agreement was reached.
Sit-down breakfasts will not be served and the existing booths would be removed. There will be only counter space where people can get an espresso to go. The plan is to also reduce the outside seating and make that a non-smoking area. The group hopes to draw people from the nearby bike trail with lite fare and items to go, said Young, who ran a coffee house in California for a decade.
“We feel it will be an asset to Harwich Center,” he said. “You’ve allowed the Port to develop, but not Harwich Center. I think we can fit into it here.”
Health board member Sharon Pfleger asked what steps would be taken if the proposal doesn’t work. Young said the group has a two-year plan and will be working with an engineer to monitor the situation. Pfleger said a comprehensive plan is needed.
Health board member Dr. Matthew Cushing said he is puzzled by the double message of a cafe and restaurant.
Young said the business has always been a take away operation and he wants to split it, doing both take out and allowing glass plates.
Eldredge said the proponents would have to asked DEP for permission to use a different flow number. There are provisions that allow identification of a similar business to the one proposed which has low water usage. The state would apply 200 percent of that usage to this business, she said. With more than 21 seats, Eldredge said, there would have to be a variance from the T-5 regulations from the state.
Young said he hoped to open the new business on Martin Luther King holiday weekend.
“My buddies want to make the place better than it is today,” resident Greg Winston said. “This is absolutely driving me crazy. Please give these gentlemen a chance to show they can reduce the flow. All they want to do is make this place a better place than it is today.”
Young agreed to the 21-seat limit if glassware is allowed. The board agreed to that provision and the 21-seat limit, with the condition that the operators return with a floor plan before opening.
On Monday night the board of selectmen approved a transfer of the all-alcoholic beverages license from Ham and Bri LLC to Beachlight, LLC for the Seal Pub and Cafe. Michael Scott was identified as manager. There was one glitch, however. Police Chief David Guillemette said he had not received paperwork for a request to conduct a CORI background check. Selectmen agreed to condition the approval on the chief completing the review.