Restaurateur Jack Morrison plans to put a porch in front of his building on Nassau Street and add rooftop seating to mix at the Blue Point Grill.
Morrison received approvals from the Princeton Zoning Board last week to create an enclosed porch area in front of his building at 258 Nassau Street . The covered porch will include sliding glass doors similar to garage doors so patrons can enjoy outdoor seating, but be protected from the elements and the cold when necessary. The roof seating will be directly above the porch.
The goal is to keep the doors open and maintain an open-air feel whenever possible, Morrison said. Seating on Pine Street will be removed and there will be a staircase on the side of the building instead. The porch roof deck will add about a dozen seats to the restaurant.
Nassau Street Seafood, Small World Coffee, and the Blue Point Grill are all part of the same building. Morrison told the zoning board that the area in front of the three businesses is lively until late October, but becomes dead in the winter.
“We’ve asked what we could do to keep the street alive through the winter,” Morrison said. “We’ve considered a lot of ideas for years — vinyl, canvas. People want to be out on the street. We came up with the (glass) garage doors.”
Morrison said the three businesses share a parking lot, but each business uses the lot at different times. He said the lot is now manned by an attendant, so parking is not an issue.
Robert Bratman and Lou Carnavale, who both own commercial properties across the Street, voiced their support for the plan. But not everyone was happy. Rich Ryan of the Ivy Inn told the zoning board that when he proposed adding a roof deck to the Ivy last year, Morrison came to the planning board meeting and opposed it, voicing concerns about the shortage of parking in the area.
Resident Ryan Davidson voiced concerns about the sidewalk on Nassau Street being too narrow with the added porch enclosure.
Some zoning board members expressed concerns that other businesses would want to follow suit and add enclosed porch areas or decks to their buildings. Zoning variances would be required in the two business districts located in the neighborhood where the Blue Point Grill is located.
The board voted 5-1 to approve variances for Morrison’s building. Michael Floyd cast the lone vote against granting the approvals.