Now that the new code is in effect, we’ll be spotlighting the zoning code every week in our “Get in the Zone” series. Have you made your reservations for the Center City District’s Restaurant Week yet? No? What are you waiting for? Obviously you’re waiting to book until you know the answers to today’s Q&A topic: Eating and Drinking Establishments
Q: I’m a producer, guest judge, gourmet chef, extreme eater, and taco samurai for the Food Network and the Gordon Ramsey Plot for Global Reality Programming Domination. I estimate that about 20% of all of our onsite locations are in Philadelphia and I’m hoping this new zoning code can give me delectable insights into locations beyond the Reading Terminal Market and the Cheesesteak Square neighborhood.
A: That’s great! We love all the positive press our food scene is generating for the City of Brotherly Love. The new code has three types of sub-uses under the larger banner of “eating and drink establishments”: prepared food shop; take-out restaurant; and sit-down restaurant.
Also, I believe that “Cheesesteak Square” prefers the name “Passyunk Square” – just for future reference.
Q: Philly has many scrumptious sandwich shops that delight my refined palate. I love the bold flavors of your roast pork with sharp provolone, the delicate medley of tastes in your banh mi, and your rolls, well, your bread is fantastic! My new show, Sandwich Mouth Crusade, will feature many of your fine establishments. What are you doing to encourage more perfect food delivery system (sandwich) shops?
A: The prepared food shop use category is a new definition and differentiates between your purely take-out business and your typical deli or sandwich shop, where some folks might sit down and enjoy their grub before heading to their next stop. This new definition allows prepared food shops by-right in more zoning districts than was allowed under the old code. Perpared food shops are allowed by right in all the commercial zoning districts except for CMX-1, where it is a special exception use.
A prepared food shop offers seating or carry out food and beverage service, and is primarily engaged in the sale of prepared food, non-alcoholic beverages, cold refreshments, or frozen desserts. Prepared food shops, in addition to sandwich shops and delis, can also include such uses as coffee shops and ice cream shops. A prepared food shop also has all of the following characteristics: customer seating (no more than 20 seats) and does not utilize commercial cooking appliances that have requirements for exhausting air contaminants.
Q: I also want to document some of your particular cultural customs such as “Mummery” while eating food. Can I get an Italian hoagie with long hots, oregano, extra meat, no lettuce, and light on the oil while watching one of these “Mummers” perform some “string band” “music”?
We’re not such why so many words are in quotes as those are all real terms, but we couldn’t think of any restaurants that also have mummer shows/performances. There are several that have opera and show tunes . . . .
The idea of a guy dressed in sequins and feathers playing “I’m Looking over a Four Leaf Clover” on the banjo at an open mike night does intrigue us. And it is allowed in the new code, so get on that coffee shop owners of Philadelphia! In the new code, establishments under the eating and drinking establishments use category can also include occasional live entertainment, provided it doesn’t meet the definition of nightclub and private club use as defined in §14-601(7)(c)(.3) – basically if the establishment only has live entertainment occasionally and it doesn’t exceed 50 patrons – it’s allowed.
Q: I’m also a producer, location scout, and director of “Extreme Take-out Makeovers” featuring Bob Villa and Guy Fieri. We’re looking for locations that want to go from take-out to dine-in. How does the new code differentiate? Bob really likes for us to get all the proper permits ever since that show we did that show in Albuquerque . . .
Good question, we wouldn’t want you do anything “extreme” without the proper zoning or building permits. Take-out restaurants have one or more of the following characteristics: a drive-through or walk-up window; a service counter where all customers pay for their ordered items before consumption and all food and beverages are served on disposable ware for consumption (not including cafeterias); have no interior customer seating; or no public restrooms.
Take-out restaurants are prohibited in CMX-1 and CMX-2.5 and need special exception approval in CA-1 and CMX-2. Where a special exception permit is needed, the applicant must submit a litter clean-up plan that addresses on- and off-site litter clean up, the location of trash and recycling containers, a litter clean-up schedule and a map of the off-site clean-up area. The Zoning Board of Adjustment then takes this plan into consideration, as well as, the hours of operation and the site plan when deciding on the special exception. Not that is necessarily applies to your show since you are transforming take-out into sit-down restaurants.
The good news is that sit-down restaurants are allowed by-right in more zoning districts and are only prohibited in CMX-1. A sit-down restaurant is any establishment that does not meet the definitions of a take-out restaurant or prepared food shop. Sit-down restaurants primarily engage in cooking food on the premises and selling it to customers primarily for on-premise consumption.
Good luck with all your shows!