Community members expressed mixed feelings toward the would-be owners of a proposed hibachi style restaurant to open in a residential section of Brookline.
Dingzhi Chen and Jianding Zheng, owners of Osaka, a popular Japanese restaurant in Northampton, want to open a 140-seat hibachi family style restaurant at 14 Green St., now the site of a Kaballah Center. The restaurant would be the first of its kind in the Boston area, and at an informal and sparsely attended Aug. 31 meeting among Brookline residents and the would-be owners, it was clear that valet parking—the original topic of choice for the meeting—was not the only concern on residents' minds.
The attendees nearly unanimously opposed valet parking, but the topic of street noise—both from idling delivery drivers and restaurant patrons—in the quiet section of Coolidge Corner dominated the conversation.
"They park out here, they park in front of the drive ways…it goes on every single day," said Carol Caro, a Town Meeting member of Precinct 8, of nearby Fugakyu restaurant's delivery drivers.
Atty. Scott Gladstone, representing Chen and Zheng, said trucks delivering to the proposed restaurant would deliver in an allotted space behind the building off of the street.
"It's a very wide right of way that goes passed the restaurant," he said of the one way Green Street, adding that trucks would have plenty of room to back in to the alley leading up to the space if need be.
Business hours were discussed among the group as well. Chen and Zheng's restaurant would stay open until 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday.
Resident Stanley Spiegel vehemently opposed these hours, saying they could cause noise on Green Street too late into the evening on weeknights.
"It's going to disturb people's sleep," he said. "I would think there's going to be a lot of resistance to an 11 o'clock closing."
Chen said usually the kitchen closes an hour earlier than the listed closing time though he would be open to changing the hours.
There were those at the meeting who were supportive of the restaurant. Lea Cohen, president of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce, said the possibility of new restaurants is part of the draw of living in Brookline.
"I just see this as another jewel on the necklace of…Coolidge Corner," she said. "That's why we like living here. We like being able to walk out of our doors and having everything at our footsteps."
David Hurwitz, a resident of Green Street, said he would welcome the restaurant due to the fact that the people who run the Kaballah Center are no longer interested in keeping the facility, according to Gladstone.
"Given the choice of having an award-winning restaurant versus having potentially an abandoned building…I hate the idea of having an abandoned building on my street," he said.
Gladstone summed up the hour-long discussion.
"It's two sides of the same coin," he said. "You could look at it as vibrancy or you could look at it as disruptive."
Though the area is zoned commercially, Chen and Zheng must gain approvals at a Sept. 16 planning board meeting, a Sept. 21 selectmen's meeting, and a Sept. 23 zoning board of appeals meeting before they can start work on the proposed restaurant.