Pizza 19 owner Pedro Franco told selectmen last night he hopes to open his new pizza shop at 150 Framingham Road later this week. That may make pizza lovers in town happy, but it doesn’t please some of the residents who live nearby.
Franco was before the Board of Selectmen seeking his Common Victualler’s license. The board ultimately granted it to him, but not before a lengthy discussion with neighbors who don’t want a restaurant in what is primarily a residential area.
While the mint green 2-story house at the corner of Framingham Road and Newton Street is zoned residential, a variance issued in 1967 has allowed restaurants to operate there for more than 40 years. But neighbors say the nature of the restaurants has changed in recent years.
“I would not be happy to see a pizza place there,” Cross Street resident Joanne McCandles said. “It changes every six months. It just seems like it’s gone really downhill.”
“They’re not part of the neighborhood,” Newton Street resident Joanne Pearson told selectmen. “They have no stake in the neighborhood.”
The site has a spotty track record, with a number of businesses coming and going over the years. Before Pizza 19, the property was home to Town Line Deli for about a year. The popular Benchmark Deli operated on the site for 15 months before that. And before Benchmark it was home to Bar-BQ-Express, Monk’s Cafe, and Elliot’s Restaurant to name a few.
Many who opposed the pizza place are longtime residents of the neighborhood, and they recalled when the family who lived in the house was the one who operated the restaurant there.
Selectmen voted to approve the operating license for Pizza 19, saying the business wasn’t substantially different than others that have operated on the site before it. The approval paves the way for the pizza place to open later this week.
But the battle is not over for Pizza 19 owner Franco. Newton Street resident David McIntire said neighbors have appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeals, claiming the site and the business is in violation of a number of zoning regulations.
The ZBA is expected to hold a hearing on the matter at their meeting on March 2. If they rule in favor of the neighbors, Pizza 19 could be forced to close.
Selectman John Rooney urged Franco to seek counsel in preparation for the hearing with the ZBA. He also had a bit of advice for the business owner.
“The success of your business is not dependent on the number of pizzas you sell. You don’t have to be just a good neighbor, you have to be a great neighbor,” Rooney said. “You need to partner with them to be successful.”