When Christopher Cho and Enrique Colbert come before the Belmont on Monday, Dec. 5 for a special permit to open a Subway restaurant at 59 Leonard St., the board will be looking at whether their restaurant complies with the town’s zoning bylaws for Belmont Center.
According to Manager Jay Szklut, topics such as whether a so-called “fast food” establishment – the industry likes to be referred as limited-service format restaurants – is appropriate for the business district or will blend in with high-end gift stores and clothing boutiques are not going to be part of the discussion.
Rather, Szklut said, the ZBA will review compliance with zoning regulations.
“We would have to show the restaurant – (that, if owners are granted the special permit, would open in the former TCBY space) – would be a detriment to the community,” he said in response to the question if the special permit is likely to be granted.
Szklut, who is the Planning Department’s representative to the ZBA, said he does not foresee any problems with the application Cho and Colbert submitted on Oct. 20 to renovate the former yogurt store.
The 1,500 square foot store, in addition to 1,500 square foot storage space in the basement, will be lessed for 10 years from Albert J. Locatelli Realty Trust.
In their application, the business partners seeking the special permit described benefits to the community if the Subway comes to Belmont.
“Subway provides healthy and value-oriented food offerings for the entire family,” they wrote.
Subway, whose world headquarters is located in Milford, Conn., is the largest franchiser in the US with more than 35,000 – 35,708 to be exact – franchise locations around the world.
“We believe that this location would offer local residents and workers a convenient lunch or dinner option versus many of the sit-down restaurants in the neighborhood,” they said.
Moreover, Cho and Colbert claim they would be filling a vacated, nationally branded food service establishment and filling the void by creating 15 to 20 full- and part-time jobs for local residents and students.
“With payroll, rent, taxes and the use of local vendors, each Subway contributes about 40 percent of sales back into the local community which is approximately $200,000 plus per year,” they wrote. “We also honor a good neighbor policy and try to limit direct competition with other local businesses.”
For example, the Subway on Leonard Street will not sell pizza that may “adversely impact” Stone Hearth Pizza, Comella’s and Gregory’s House of Pizza. It will also not sell ice cream, frozen yogurt or alcohol.
The Belmont Center store will be renovated into the company's upscale Tuscany II decor.
Cho and Colbert said Subway is also actively involved in the community through sponsorships, donations and fundraisers with the company annually supporting youth sports teams, local police and firefighters, community-based non-profit organizations and donates excess inventory to local food banks and soup kitchens.
The Subway’s proposed hours of operation will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. The seating will be limited to 42 seats and the décor will be an “upscale Tuscany design” with a variety of tables, chairs, booths and sofas.
All the exterior signage will be custom-made to conform to local requirements and landlord preference, Cho and Colbert said.
They said there is ample parking for the restaurant in the building’s private lot and the adjacent municipal lot.
They will use two food distributors that deliver one or two times a week during off-hours and would be received at the rear of the building. Trash would be collected several times a week from shared containers in the back of the building. Additionally, store employees will pick up litter and rash in the exterior vicinity of the restaurant.
Cho and Colbert pointed out each Subway restaurant is inspected 18-20 times a year by Subway consultants, vendor representatives, secret shoppers and headquarter inspectors.
Subway managers are ServSafe certified, trained in allergen and food choking procedures and all staff continually take Subway University online courses.