Neighbor Pat Noto said the proposed building “is very attractive” but will be “a little out of place” in the Hamilton Park neighborhood.
“The restaurant before looked more like a house,” said Noto. He added: “I don’t object to the restaurant, not at all. The parking would be the big thing.”
Residents complained about cars of Youell’s customers blocking fire hydrants, crosswalks and parking so close to their cars that they could not get out of spaces.
The most serious complaint involved customers parking in front of driveways of homes, preventing residents from getting in or out.
Resident Timothy Sheridan predicted expanding the restaurant will compound those parking problems immensely.
Zeller estimated 50 more seats in the restaurant will mean 16 more cars – at four passengers per car – requiring 44 more feet of on-street parking space. But Sheridan said Youell’s drew mostly couples – two people per car.
While Filipos said he was not aware of any previous complaints about parking, at least two residents said occasionally they went inside the restaurant to complain to its staff about parking problems caused by its patrons.
Evelyn Deutsch said she was parked into her own driveway at least twice a month when the restaurant was open. She said she had to go to the restaurant to ask someone to move their car. “I’ve been in quite often to complain about that,” she said. “I have not been met with a very good reception. They always feel it’s a nuisance to their customers to have to move their cars.”
Filipos said Youell’s employees are instructed to park on 23rd Street north of Reading Road. But neighbor Joy Hilliker said employees were not parking where they were supposed to park.
Twenty-one interested parties, including the staff of the restaurant, also attended the Youell’s hearing.
Resident Thomas Ruhe said he lives one block from the restaurant since 1953.
“There’s always been a restaurant down the street; I was used to it.” He said he had no problems with patron parking and has no concern about additional seats proposed for the new restaurant.
A similar opinion was expressed by another neighbor, Dorothy Kulyk, who lives near the restaurant for 10 years.
Another neighbor, Nicos Elias, called Youell’s a great neighbor and an asset to the neighborhood. He said on-street parking exists all over the neighborhood. “I’m sorry they’re not there anymore and I hope they come back to the neighborhood.”
Zeller, who also lives near the proposed restaurant, said people can park all along his property, “I don’t care.”
“I choose to live near a restaurant I can walk to,” said Zeller. “It’s my little piece of city living.”
The new restaurant will have off-street parking for deliveries. Filipos said anyone making deliveries in the past had to double-park behind the restaurant, blocking one lane of Reading Road.
Filipos is seeking special exception approval to build a larger restaurant, as the expansion of an existing non-conforming use of the property with a non-conforming building. His lawyer argued doing so will not be detrimental to the health and welfare of the neighborhood.
Filipos said the Youell’s was experiencing five percent growth a year before the fire.
He said the fire insurance coverage on the restaurant will not cover the cost of rebuilding. “You never have enough insurance. I have to invest additional funds in order to rebuild.”
The expansion, said the owner, will give him flexibility and generate additional revenue to pay for rebuilding and “slightly enlarging” the restaurant.
Filipos explained the restaurant was owned by his parents, Barbara and Constantine Filipos, since 1992. They recently transferred the property to him, but he already owned the business.
Filipos kept four colonies of bees on the roof of Youell’s and sold their honey in the restaurant.