Soho blocks top chef from restaurant expansion

May 14, 2012 03:00PM

Better access to celebrated food isn’t enough to compel Soho residents to alter zoning requirements for a renowned chef. DNAinfo reported that James Beard Award-nominated chef Michael White’s plan to expand his Osteria Morini restaurant into a neighboring Lafayette Street retail space was rebuffed by Community Board 2.

The board rejected a zoning exception request that would allow the restaurant to expand beyond 218 Lafayette Street and into the ground-floor of 216 Lafayette Street, which is zoned for manufacturing or artist live-work space.

Residents complain that the block already has five spaces licensed for food, and a sixth would further endanger the peaceful lifestyle families in the area envision. They say noise has become more of a problem since the block between Kenmare and Spring streets became a venerable “restaurant row” with the additions of Ed’s Lobster Bar and La Esquina.

The restaurant countered that the crowds it regularly attracts compelled it to explore expansion to 143 seats from its current 98-seat setting. [DNAinfo]