Dozens of Campbell residents and downtown business owners came out to Orchard Valley Coffee shop Wednesday evening to get more information from the applicants and building owners of the historic Gaslighter Theater who are seeking a conditional-use permit to operate a restaurant and serve alcohol until 2:00 a.m.
According to Sean Buxton, co-owner of the West Hall Properties, LLC, the managing partner of the historic theater, the informational mixer Wednesday was a chance for people to come in and look at the plans for Dasha’ Restaurant and Lounge, conceived by applicants Melodann, Inc., who were unanimously denied a conditional-use permit from the city’s Planning Commission on Oct. 25 due to which prohibits downtown businesses from serving alcohol past midnight.
“The reason for this informational event is to show people what we are doing,” Buxton said. “There are people out in the community that are putting out misinformation against our concept, and our big concern is getting our side of the story out so people can make an educated decision that this is good for the city.”
Melodann partner Ray Shafazand and his group are appealing the planning commission’s permit denial to the Campbell City Council on Jan. 3, 2012.
Buxton insists that some community members have the impression that Shafazand will use his building located at 400 E. Campbell Ave. as a nightclub instead of a restaurant and lounge like he plans, and that the occupancy level of around 250 people is way less than the building’s capacity of 500.
“We’ve turned away nightclubs in the past,” Buxton said. “We want an anchor tenant that will thrive in this economy and this is it. We are going to cater to the Campbell demographic.”
Shafazand, who owns two restaurant and lounge establishments in San Jose, said Wednesday’s event was a chance to show the community what exactly they have in store for their business plan and that most residents and downtown business owners are supportive of the plans.
“What we’re trying to create here is a Santana Row-feel with a fresh type of cuisine that is new to the community with a great vibe, a place you do not currently see in Campbell,” said Shafazand. “Ninety-nine percent of businesses and residents are in support of what we’re doing. I spoke to a lot of businesses, and they are thriving for more foot traffic, especially on the East side of Campbell Avenue.
Shafazand said they reached out to the Downtown Campbell Business Association about the event and did outreach through Facebook.
The Melodann group had blueprints and design plans on display for guests to view, along with the planned food menus and culinary staff to answer questions.
Attendees Mark and Laura Robicheck, who frequent downtown for shopping and events, said they came out to the event Wednesday on Campbell Patch, and were impressed with the applicants’ plans for the former theater.
“We believe in the preservation of historic buildings, and the fact that they will preserve it means a lot,” Mark said. “Plus we love Greek and French food.”
Laura Robicheck said she was satisfied to see a business plan that could help people shop and eat downtown.
“I came here unsure how I will feel, but I’m happy they will be doing it,” she said.
The group collected signatures from visitors who are in support of their plan. As of Wednesday evening, the group had 134 on-line signatures.
But not everyone at the event was in support of the proposed restaurant and lounge.
A number of Campbell residents stood near the entranceway to Orchard Valley Coffee handing out informational literature denouncing the business plan.
Campbell resident Ed Sengstack said that he and a group of concerned resident are opposing the lounge portion of the business plan because it is in violation with the city’s general plan, downtown development plan and nighttime occupancy of the lounge will soak up more city and police resources.
Sengstack, who has requesting denial of the project, said the implementation of another lounge operating into early morning will affect the entire city, not just downtown residents and businesses.
“We are out here to keep them honest,” Sengstack said. “The bottom line is we’re not opposed to restaurants with a bar, but these guys have downtown San Jose businesses that operate as nightclubs between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. and a nightclub is what we are opposed to.”