Jamesport Vineyards seeking to establish pizza bistro

Jamesport Vineyards has applied for a special permit to legalize an existing outdoor pizza oven and to establish a 49-seat pizza bistro in the same structure as its winery and accessory tasting room.

The pizza oven was built in 2012 without permits from Riverhead Town or the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and the business had been issued a violation.

The father-son business, run by Ron Goerler Sr. and Ron Goerler Jr., is on the north side of Main Road in Jamesport, just east of Tuthills Lane. The site is located in the town’s Rural Corridor district.

The special permit application was submitted for an accessory use — the bistro — to an existing accessory use, the tasting room. The applicants propose to commingle the two uses in the existing building, according to a staff report on the application.

When the town’s Master Plan was adopted in 2004, it included a bistro as a special permit use in the Rural Corridor, but it was unclear if it was meant to be a separate use or commingled with other uses as the applicant proposes, planning aide Greg Bergman said at last Thursday’s Town Board work session.

Unlike restaurants, bistros are limited to 49 seats, according to senior building inspector Brad Hammond.

“I think having the café behind a defined area so they can’t over-occupy or can’t go beyond 49 seats makes a lot of sense,” he said.

It’s not a use issue, Mr. Hammond said, as a bistro is a permitted use and there can be multiple uses at one location.

Tasting room laws changed so that owners had to require some sort of sustenance so visitors weren’t getting in cars after consuming alcohol on an empty stomach, Mr. Hammond noted. Applying for a special permit for a bistro should be more the model for how the town deals with tasting room uses, he said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she wanted to take a look at the town code on bistros so that perhaps it isn’t necessarily covered with a special permit.

The current site plan shows 36 seats inside and 14 outside the building, Mr. Bergman said.

The Town Board expects to vote at its next meeting to schedule a public hearing on the special permit application.

Photo credit: A pizza served at Jamesport Vineyards. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

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