Plans for a restaurant on the former site of Charlie O’s reach an impasse | New
NARRAGANSETT, RI – The former site of Charlie O’s restaurant on Point Judith Road may not become an upscale dining establishment as planned, but the vacant property could be up for sale, according to owner TJ Martucci.
Martucci, leader of the Martucci Group, said more than a year ago that he planned to build a new restaurant on the property after demolishing the iconic Charlie O’s, long a favorite tavern of tourists, locals and students from the University of Rhode Island.
The building was razed and the land has stood empty ever since. He said he wanted a new establishment like The Trap Brew Pub and Grill in East Greenwich.
This week, however, he says his plans are being thwarted by the town of Narragansett, which is imposing various development conditions. These disputes, he said, led to all development of the property being canceled and serious consideration being given to selling it.
The city, however, said it can go ahead but must adhere to certain stipulations that city regulatory boards can make.
“The last activity that took place at the Zoning Board of Review on March 31, 2022 gave them permission to make some changes,” said City Building and Zoning Officer Wayne Pimental.
Martucci, however, argues that “the city just isn’t friendly to inbound restaurants and doesn’t want business development. They blocked me every step of the way and now I’ve invested the money for this project into something else I’m doing,” he said.
“The city cost me over $300,000 in legal work for designs, changes and issues that never needed to happen,” he said.
His group owns and operates various businesses in East Greenwich including the Safehouse Modern Neighborhood Eatery, Besos Kitchen & Cocktails, The Trap Brew Pub & Grill and Kai Bar & Restaurant.
He pointed to issues with the city over capacity, parking, and various design disputes that prevent “the necessary development of this property in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Martucci had described the planned new restaurant as “an upscale pub, a good place to watch a game without being in a sports bar and having a split-level design with an entertainment section downstairs, a table service and a bar.”
The second floor, he said, would have included mezzanine-level seating that would overlook the entertainment area. It would also have had space for a private gathering. He wanted a potential opening earlier this year.
The city provided a detailed timeline of decisions, dating back to 2020, regarding the ups and downs of the review of Martucci’s plans. There are various denials as well as approvals of parts of his plan and changes to it.
On March 31, city zoning officials approved an extension to the building’s size, but Martucci had to:
Reduce the number of authorized customers to 280.
The exterior foredeck has been reduced and limited to indoor/outdoor bar service.
It must also meet various other engineering, landscaping, and soil sedimentation requirements.
A request for enlarged deck space was denied “due to failure to meet relief standards, specifically noting that the deck could accommodate more people and that the enlarged space would result in greater noise adversely affecting the surrounding neighborhood,” according to city records. .
Pimental said, “He has approval to move forward with these terms.”