For many Sag Harbor businesses, Memorial Day weekend heralds a critical season to attract visitors and make money — a concept that no doubt applies to K Pasa, one of two new local restaurants that anticipate opening this spring.
K Pasa, occupying the former La Superica space, will serve “beach street food with Latin influences,” according to co-owner Jesse Matsuoka.
But according to attorney Tiffany Scarlato, who represents the partners involved in the new eatery, K Pasa has run into an obstacle that threatens its May 16 opening timeline ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
On Tuesday, she told the Sag Harbor Planning Board the restaurant has to legalize two existing structures behind the building that existed before K Pasa’s partners signed their lease with Double Star Inc., which owns the property. One is an outdoor walk-in refrigerator and the second is a wooden shed, both of which were constructed illegally, according to Ms. Scarlato.
The refrigeration unit behind Espresso “doesn’t belong to these guys at all,” Ms. Scarlato told the Planning Board, yet the Suffolk County Department of Health Services is still requiring the property be brought into full compliance before it will issue K Pasa’s permit.
Sag Harbor building inspector Thomas Preiato confirmed Wednesday that he and code enforcement officer Keith Payne had each issued a code violation for the alleged illegal refrigeration unit behind Espresso to Double Star Inc. owner Rose Cheng and Espresso’s former co-owner, Danny Cheng. They are due in Sag Harbor Village Justice Court on June 11.
Beyond the legalization of the existing outdoor fridge and the shed, Mr. Matsuoka said they would like to add another their own refrigeration unit. Kathy Eiseman, Sag Harbor’s environmental consultant, has also suggested adding an additional driveway on the property so that the entrance and egress can both be made one-way, improving the flow of traffic on the site. She also said the lighting on the property needs to be improved and the whole site should be repaved.
With Memorial Day only a few weeks away, the Planning Board was willing to be flexible with Mr. Matsuoka and his partners. The board voted 4-0, under the leadership of newly installed chairwoman Kay P. Lawson, to waive a public hearing on the project. The board also informally agreed it would waive a “strict application” of all of the requirements a site plan normally requires, since the space was being converted to a new restaurant use from a previous restaurant use.
The planning board also informally agreed to hold a special meeting early in May to vote on K Pasa’s application, as long as Mr. Matsuoka provided a necessary updated site plan schematic by April 29.
“The difference, functionally, is opening the 20th of May or the 20th of June,” board member Larry Perrine pointed out. “I’ll just identify that as the reality or the truth of the matter.”
Ms. Scarlato and Mr. Matsuoka nodded in agreement. Ms. Scarlato called the problem “a very practical one.”
“We’ve been asked for a lot of things. We’re working on this as diligently as possible,” she said.
Board attorney Denise Schoen replied, “The problem is if we try to adopt something tonight, it is going to have so many conditions in it. I don’t even know how to articulate all of them.”
On Wednesday, one of Mr. Matsuoka’s partners, Tora Matsuoka, said he is grateful for the planning board’s willingness to work with them.
“I think Sag Harbor is pro-business. I think they realize the importance of the restaurant industry as part of the local economy,” Tora Matsuoka said.
Also on Tuesday, the planning board postponed making a formal decision on the Sag Harbor Partnership’s updated application for the added roof terrace and third-floor office space at the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. A discrepancy in the plans showed a 42-square-foot difference between the plans approved by the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals and those plans presented to the Sag Harbor Planning Board. Attorney Chris Kelley, representing the partnership, requested an adjournment to May to give the organization time to submit corrected plans.