At the EPIC Stakeholders meeting on Thursday night, Vern McDonald the new owner of 1520 Arrott Street, set the record straight on his plan for the property. His initial intention was to make it a Gentleman’s club but when he saw the bureaucratic hurdles necessary to achieve that end, he decided to go in the direction of a sit down restaurant instead with a liquor license. He is working on the three apartments at this stage of the renovation but has not begun work on the business area yet. He has taken steps to secure the property to make the corner less attractive to the drug dealers who may want to conduct business there. You can see the video below of his presentation and the answers to some questions from some of those attending the meeting.
Kim Washington did an admirable job of keeping what could have been a very contentious meeting moving in a positive direction. There was universal agreement that nobody in the community wants a return of that property to its former status as a nuisance bar. At the same time, having it sit vacant and idle is also undesirable.
Vern has made an investment in this property and therefore has to make it work financially. However it won’t work without community support. The bone of contention is that everybody can support a restaurant but there is a great deal of concern about serving liquor. It was pointed out that restaurants that we travel to outside of the neighborhood (Red Lobster, Olive Garden) all serve alcohol.
Suggestion was made to open the restaurant at first without the liquor license and then get community support and add that later. You can see comments and suggestions from Jason Dawkins, Phil Robinson, Barry Howell, Marie Delany, Lynda DeSouza and other in the video below. In any case, if Vern opens his place and the community fails to support it, it will all be to no avail.
Vern agreed to work with the Frankford CDC and to come back to the EPIC Stakeholders future meetings to keep the community informed of his plans and progress.