Page Restaurant is planning to create an 80-seat space and commercial kitchen for private events, to be known as Page Hall, in what is now a four-bedroom apartment above the restaurant on Main Street in Sag Harbor.
It also would occupy new structures to be erected above the walkway and lounge area behind the restaurant, currently known as the Back Page patio café, which will be eliminated.
“Page, with its stellar reputation as a local leader in the aquaponic and organic farm movement, intends to dedicate that same level of service to Page Hall,” attorney Tiffany Scarlato told the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board on Tuesday, becoming an “economic engine” that will meet a demand that “is more than can be accommodated,” and provide jobs for the region year-round.
Ms. Scarlato, representing restaurant owner Joseph Traina, presented the plan for a preliminary discussion at the board’s work session on Tuesday.
The board’s initial response was cautious, with Chair Kay P. Lawson urging Ms. Scarlato to find ways to reduce the number of variances that the plan will need from the Zoning Board of Appeals for off-street parking, roof coverage and lot coverage, all of which already fail to meet or exceed the limits set in the zoning code.
“We’ll continue to look at that as we move ahead,” Ms. Scarlato said, after explaining that the plan is what it is — and the necessary variances are what they are — to provide the space needed for the proposed operation, including the 80-seat event hall and kitchen, a service bar with no seats, and accessibility features that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, including an elevator.
Board member Neil Slevin questioned what would prevent the “events space” from evolving into a virtual expansion of the restaurant by 80 seats. Page events coordinator Jacqueline LaBorne assured him that there was “no intention” to use any of the upstairs space to seat restaurant patrons.
“Let’s be open about this,” said board member Larry Perrine, after the discussion turned to the controversial Back Page lounge operation — the original site plan for which allowed only a place for restaurant patrons to wait for a table inside, according to the board’s attorney, Denise Schoen. It currently operates as a bar and lounge.
The Page Hall plan calls for building a new entrance on Division Street, with an elevator, staircase, restroom and coat check. “The bar-lounge for Back Page will be eliminated,” Ms. Scarlato said, “and that space reconfigured for a new entryway, which will be known at least preliminarily as the Sag Harbor Experience,” an exhibition of Sag Harbor history and art.
“We, all in this room, know that there was a controversial transformation” of the Back Page proposal that was approved for the space in 2013 and what actually occurred, “that caused a lot of ruckus,” Mr. Perrine said, among the village’s regulatory authorities.
He asked if the new plan meant Page was yielding the late-night bar business “to Murfs,” the tavern next door on Division Street, “and get out of that business — and that’s probably a good thing.”
“That is the intention,” said Ms. Scarlato, who acknowledged that “there is a lot of seating back there that does not show up on any certificate of occupancy.” She added that “all those seats disappear completely” under the new plan.