In New Canaan, local merchants aren’t just people who sell us things: They’re our neighbors, our high school classmates, our kids’ youth sports coaches, our friends and often they’re the first people in town to give of their time, expertise, products and services to support human services organizations here.
Nearly one year after announcing its plans, vegan and vegetarian foods provider Organika Kitchen officially opened Monday in downtown New Canaan. The eatery, well-established in Southport, soft-opened at 96 Main St. in the morning and welcomed its first customers into the newly remodeled, clean and well-lit space throughout the day. “It’s a long time coming—very long time coming,” said Dimitri Pantzos, a partner in the business who is overseeing the New Canaan location day-to-day. “But we are open now so that’s all that really matters.
Saying the change would help commercial property owners, retailers and the wider community, a local land use attorney has applied to the town to allow first-floor offices in a business zone that skirts the center of downtown New Canaan. Representing the new owners of the former Beval Saddlery building on Pine Street, attorney David Rucci of Main Street’s Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC is seeking to amend the New Canaan Zoning Regulations to “re-establish first floor office use with site plan review in the Business A zone.”
“The Business A zone was created in 1985,” Rucci wrote in an application filed Monday with Planning & Zoning. “It is the largest of the business zones and represents the second ring of the core. While there is a prohibition on new first floor office use today, over 50 percent of the zone serves first floor general office use. The remaining properties serve retail, bank, medical, second floor office use and single purpose type of business use.”
The application continued: “By re-establishing first floor general office use in the Business A zone, we believe the zone would become more economically viable for both A zone building owners and the Town of New Canaan.
Despite some concerns regarding outdoor lighting, members of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Tuesday night voted unanimously to allow a hot dog-themed restaurant to open in a commercial space in downtown New Canaan. To be located down the “alley” at the top of Elm Street—formerly occupied by New Canaan Music (now on Main Street), near the former Chef Luis restaurant—the new establishment, “White Buffalo,” will include a 13-stool bar and rows of two-person tables that bring the total seating to about 35 to 40 people, according to New Canaan resident Dave Tonkovich, one of three local men who is launching the business. A 1993 New Canaan High School graduate along with business partner Dom Valente—town resident Doug Harris is also an owner—Tonkovich described White Buffalo as a “place where New Canaan as a community can gather and support each other, whether that is having our teams over after a game, hosting a fundraiser for the lacrosse or hockey team, or honoring our local Police Department or Fire Department.”
“We feel like this is something the town needs,” Tonkovich said during a public hearing at Town Hall. “You might say it is built by New Canaan, for New Canaan.”
Tonkovich reviewed some national hot dog consumption data and said that White Buffalo is designed to “fit the bill” for locals meeting after a game or with a friend or client “or when you are coming off the train.”
“Our goal is not to be all things to all people,” he said. Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations, restaurants are permitted in the Retail A zone with site plan approval. After some discussion, P&Z approved White Buffalo’s site plan 7-0.
A new nail salon is planned for a commercial space on Forest Street that’s been vacant since Milestones closed at the end of 2016. An inspection and Health Department license are required in order for “Belle Visage” to open at 32 Forest St., according to documents on file at Town Hall. The interior fit-out at the salon will cost about $60,000, according to a building permit application filed by Chi Ae Na, the business’s owner. The contractor on the job is Wayne Dimm Enterprises of Ridgefield, the architect is New Canaan-based RADMANarchitects LLC, according to the application, filed June 22. Normally under the Building Code, a 1,535-square-foot space would mean that separate facilities are required.
A new restaurant selling hot dogs and bratwurst is being proposed for a vacant commercial space located off of Elm Street in downtown New Canaan. ‘White Buffalo’ would offer a wide variety of hot dogs—including a “singature” blend of pork, veal and beef— as well cheese-and-sauerkraut, hot and “big bacon cheese” bratwurst topped with relish, spicy mustard, chili, bacon bits and more, according to a draft menu submitted to the Planning & Zoning Commission along with a site plan application for 72 Park St. The commercial building, occupied until recently by New Canaan Music (now at 90 Man St.) is located down “the alley” by the former Chef Luis space. Site plan approval is needed by P&Z for a change of use to food service. Renderings for the long narrow space show a cozy bar with 13 stools and four flatscreen TVs as well as two-top tables lining one wall.
The eatery would be a truly local affair: The owners of White Buffalo LLC are New Canaan residents, according to records on file with the Connecticut Secretary of the State.