Building at the corner of North Main Street and Willett Avenue where the Rye House-Port Chester gastropub is proposed.
Building at the corner of North Main Street and Willett Avenue where the Rye House-Port Chester gastropub is proposed.
The owners of Rye House, a New York City gastropub located at 11 W. 17th St., are looking to open a bar and restaurant on two floors with entertainment at 126 North Main St. It would be called Rye House-Port Chester.

Port Chester architect Michiel Boender made an application on behalf of Stratmar Equities, owner of the building, to the Port Chester Planning Commission and presented it along with White Plains attorney Anthony Tirone at the Commission's July 29 meeting.

The striking building is now vacant but most recently housed Stratmar Systems, Inc., a promotional and merchandising service provider. In the past it was the site of Zemo's menswear. Tirone pointed out that it was originally built as United Hospital and later was taken over by the American Red Cross and used as their headquarters.

Tirone said the restaurant focuses on great food and rye from small batch breweries. The home page of the website for their NYC location reads: "Classic American cocktails, hand crafted beer, and fare."

The dinner menu includes boiled peanuts, fried pickles, pickled quail eggs and Mama's fried mac 'n' cheese as "Bites" as well as Maplebrook Burrata, grilled stuffed calamari, perogies, sloppy Joe sliders, truffle grilled cheese, duck quesadillas and a Rye House burger.

Tirone said this 200-seat gastropub style restaurant would bring a new concept to Port Chester. It would seat 120 on the existing first floor (100 at tables, 20 at the bar) and 80 in the basement (60 at tables, 20 at the bar). The ground floor has a large staircase leading down to the below grade area which would be maintained.

"It's a great building with a grand stairway," said Boender. There is office space on the second and third floors.

The entryway would be changed and the windows replaced with larger ones that would open to the outside, "giving the impression of eating outside," said Tirone. There would also be an option for curbside seating at eight sidewalk tables for 16 people, some on North Main Street and some on Willett Avenue, as the building is located on the corner of those two streets. That would require a permit from the village.

Instead of the ramp shown on his drawing, Boender said the applicant would be proposing a lift at the front door for handicapped accessibility.

For entertainment, the idea is to have two or three acoustic or jazz performers play on the lower level. "There is a small area that could be carved out as a stage," said Boender, "toward he front of the building. It may not get going right away but will happen over time." He did not rule out entertainment on the main floor as well.

Most likely an ancillary entertainment license from the village clerk's office will be required, said Village Attorney Anthony Cerreto, who asked what level license they would be applying for.

"In some cases the topic of the placement of the entertainment has turned into a significant topic," said Planning Commission Chairman Michael Scarola.

Some work will be done to replace the sidewalk as needed to make it uniform, add a tree and remove a meter stub, said Boender.

The proposed hours of operation are 12-5 p. m. for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner from 5-10 p. m. Monday through Wednesday, 5 p. m.-midnight Thursday through Saturday and 4-10 p. m. Sunday. Brunch would be served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a. m.-4 p. m.

"I'm glad to see these proposed hours," said Scarola. "I think this is a much better starting point" than going until 4 a. m. Boender and Tirone said the hours could be extended but would start as such.

Since the building is located in the C-2 central business district, no parking is required. However, said Scarola, "there might be shared parking schemes with Metro-North."

"Parking is available at night in those back areas," said Tirone. In preparing the village's comprehensive plan, "we did speak about this niche marketing," said Port Chester Director of Planning and Development Christopher Gomez in voicing his comments on the application. "It is the kind of thing we want to see in our downtown. We're excited about the potential."

The application, being heard for the first time, also received a favorable reception from the Planning Commission.

"I'm so excited to see entrepreneurs from the City who want to take a beautiful building in our downtown and breathe new life into it," said Planning Commissioner Kevin Pellon. "This is exactly the kind of thing our downtown needs...They can't possibly make enough noise to bother anybody."

A variance will be required from the Zoning Board of Appeals for two off-street loading spaces, said Gomez. The proposed gastropub location is also within the village's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, so it will need a Waterfront Commission determination as well as review by the county.

The Planning Commission set a public hearing on the application for Aug. 26 which will be continued on Sept. 30. In the meantime, it will go before the ZBA on Aug. 15 and the Waterfront Commission on a date to be determined.