MERIDEN — The owner of Mr. Bentley’s Cafe is applying for a 756-square-foot expansion that would allow the Grove Street bar to begin serving food.
Owner Anthony Pellegrino said the project would add a kitchen, bathrooms to the bar, and a dining area for 16 seats. Pellegrino said the kitchen would be led by Susan Lewis, owner of Meriden-based catering company Mama’s Cooking.
While details haven’t been finalized, Pellegrino said the bar’s menu will include a mix of different cuisines Lewis’ catering company currently offers, including Italian, Spanish and American.
“I’m not so much making the bar bigger, I'm just making a dining area,” Pellegrino said.
Pellegrino received approval for the project from the Zoning Board of Appeals this week and now needs site plan approval from the Planning Commission.
City Planner Renata Bertotti said plans call for the bar expansion and new offsite parking spaces to be built on adjacent lots Pellegrino previously purchased from the city at 192, 194 and 198 Grove Street. The project will add about 20 off-street parking spaces. The bar currently doesn’t offer any off-street parking, Pellegrino said.
Pellegrino previously received approval from the city to build an outdoor patio on the vacant lots but was swayed to pursue the kitchen expansion instead by customers and neighbors who wanted a place to go get food in the area.
“More and more people said it is a great idea,” Pellegrino said about serving food. “People that go to bars now, they don't just want to drink, they want food.”
Pellegrino said the expansion and parking he plans to add will still allow some room toward the back of the property for an outdoor patio down the road.
Bertotti said floor plans submitted by the bar show about four seating booths in the new dining area. The dining area of the restaurant will have its own entrance and cash register, Pellegrino said.
Pellegrino said the restaurant will primarily serve lunch and dinner, but may also offer breakfast on Sunday’s