Old Island Pub granted final approval

Will open within a month
Thu, 08/15/2019 - 5:45pm

Huddled near the entrance of their new Old Island Pub restaurant on a rainy Tuesday the Gaffett family heard the news they had been waiting for: that they would be receiving unanimous (6-0) final approval from the New Shoreham Planning Board. The board’s final approval clears the way for the restaurant to be open within the next month.

The Planning Board, absent Mary Anderson, visited the building on Ocean Avenue to tour the property before granting its approval. Building Official Marc Tillson and Land Use Administrator, Jenn Brady, scrutinized the building’s construction while reviewing the project’s site plan. Tillson utilized a tape measure to confirm that installation was done according to the plans.

At the outset of the meeting, Paige Gaffett, who spearheaded the family’s approval process, asked if anybody in attendance “wanted anything to drink.”

In response, board member Denny Heinz quipped, “That’s in the test,” which elicited laughter from those in attendance.

In short order, the board dodged the raindrops, and then Chair Margie Comings made the motion that was seconded by Socha Cohen, and approval was granted. The board then presented Paige with a bouquet of flowers. That was followed by congratulations from the board members.

The board’s approval comes with a short list of stipulations that need to be met before Tillson can issue a Certificate of Occupancy. Those stipulations include adding two additional handicap compliant railings at the building’s rear entrance; handicap signs; landscaping by Oct. 15; a swale, protected by a split-rail fence, at the back of the property; wheel stops for the nine parking spaces; and lattice/screening around the property’s propane equipment, as well as the dumpster.  

The board waived the stone veneer that was supposed to be installed on the exterior façade of the west retaining wall with the approval of Chris Reeves, who owns the neighboring property, and dropped by to give his consent. Members of the board felt that brush would grow and cover up the concrete wall, making the need for the stone veneer obsolete.

According to Paige, the board’s stipulations should be met within the next week or so. “We should be open in about four weeks,” she said. “We will need to get a liquor license after we get the Certificate of Occupancy.”

For Paige and her father, Nat, it has been a lengthy three-year process that included their attendance at 34 town meetings, as well as having to address a host of issues along the way. The board’s final approval prompted an emotional response from the Gaffetts, who are mourning the recent loss of Lew Gaffett, the family’s patriarch.

“We would have liked for Lew to see that it was completed,” said Paige of her grandfather, Lew Gaffett. “This was his brainchild. This has been his property for 40 years.”

Paige said, “We had to leave our other site because the lease was up, and Lew said, ‘Let’s build something here.’” She noted that, “August 29 is his birthday, so we would like to hold a celebration of his life here.”

When asked his thoughts, Nat was teary-eyed. “It’s emotional for me,” was all he could say.

The Gaffetts said the operating space of their new restaurant is 1,000 square feet per floor, and contains a kitchen, pool table, jukebox, and flat-screen televisions. The three-story building has two bars, one on the main floor, and another on the second floor, which has an outdoor deck. There are nine designated parking spaces on the property per zoning regulations: seven in front, and two at the rear. Two of the spaces are designated for handicap parking.

The gravel driveway, which runs up a sloping hill, is bordered on the west side by a steel and wood guardrail. Paige said the Rhode Island Department of Transportation “required” the guardrail. “It’s for the cars that are backing up in the front parking lot,” she said.

The main floor, which has a nautical theme, complete with an oar, boat’s wheel, and other marine elements on the walls, can be accessed from the sidewalk via a stone paver walkway. One wall is adorned with “The Albion Pub” sign, a tribute to Lew Gaffett’s old pub that inhabited the Poor People’s Pub location. Paige Gaffett said Lew opened The Albion Pub in the early 90s, and sold it 10 years ago.

“I like the lighting” over the entrance, said board member Socha Cohen. She was referring to the utility-style lighting that is affixed to the bottom of the second floor deck.

Overall, the members of the Planning Board seemed pleased with the way the building was constructed. There was some discussion from Tillson and board member Sam Bird about the driveway being less than the required 22 feet for a 20-foot stretch beside the building, but board member Tony Pappas said, “Twelve feet is all that is required for a driveway; so it’s a moot point.”

After the board and town officials departed from the property, Paige gave Nat a celebratory high-five. “Good job,” she said.

The next Planning Board meeting is Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m..