Residents support proposed patio at new area restaurant


Plans to build an outdoor dining patio at the recently opened Highway House restaurant and bar, 5653 N. Northwest Hwy., are expected to move forward after residents voiced support for the project at a Jan. 25 community meeting.

Several of the 35 people at the meeting said that the area needs more restaurants within walking distance of their homes and that the patio would be a good place for neighbors to gather on summer evenings. "When I moved into the neighborhood 10 years ago, this is what I wanted," one woman said.

Project attorney Tom Pikarski said that a 7-foot wood fence would be installed behind the approximately 40-by-25-foot patio to help muffle noise and that a 6-foot wood fence would be installed along the perimeter of the property on Merrimac Avenue to shield the view of the patio from nearby homes.

Plans call for an existing wrought iron fence in front of property to remain so that the patio would be visible from Northwest Highway, Pikarski said. The patio would be open until about 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends, and it will not have live music, according to project officials.

Alderman John Arena (45th) said that based on the comments at the meeting, he will support a zoning change for the project and that if there is any issue with the patio after it opens, residents should share those concerns with the restaurant’s owners and his office. "Keeping open the lines of communication is the most important thing," Arena said.

Owners Lisa O’Neill and Patrick Martin said that they live in the neighborhood and that their goal is to operate a neighborhood-friendly establishment. "This is our back yard, too," O’Neill said. "There’s never going to be a problem, but if there is, we’ll be on it."

Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce president David Wians said that the restaurant is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and that chamber plans to issue a letter of support for the zoning proposal.

There are long-range plans to pave a gravel lot behind the restaurant for customer parking, O’Neill said. The lot is accessible from Seminole Street.

The existing M1-1 Limited Manufacturing/Business Park Zoning District zoning of the site allows restaurants but not outdoor patios, Pikarski said. The project calls for the 13,865-square-foot property, which previously was occupied by Kouks Vintage Cafe, to be rezoned to B3-1 Community Shopping District.