After receiving preliminary approval from the Birmingham City Commission on April 8, Brooklyn Pizza came before the Birmingham Planning Board on Wednesday, October 23, for a special land use permit to operate a bistro, and for final site plan and design review, where the bistro was recommended for approval.
The planning board, by a vote of 6-1, recommended Brooklyn Pizza receive a bistro liquor license to operate a bistro as they expand their restaurant into the adjacent Birmingham Geek space at the corner of Maple and Henrietta streets. Board member Dan Share voted against, as owner Sam Abdelfatah plans to continue counter service only, including at the bar, and not have table service.
“It concerns me that a bistro will be more like a McDonald's than the establishments we've been used to,” Share said. “I will not be supporting this because the plan is not consistent with the ordinance and is not consistent with my idea of service for a bistro and service for an establishment serving alcohol.”
Birmingham planner Brooks Cowan explained that Abdelfatah has proposed a renovation of his current space, 111 Henrietta, as well as the adjacent storefront at 195 W. Maple, where Birmingham Geek is, with an L-shaped bar situated in the Birmingham Geek space. There would be 50 interior dining seats, plus 10 at the bar. As they are already approved for outdoor seating, they would add 11 outdoor seats, including stools at a counter at a new bifold window. Seven stools would be moved from the indoor bar during nice weather.
Cowan said Brooklyn Pizza is currently open until 10 p.m., and is proposing to stay open until 11 p.m.
The elevation on both Maple and Henrietta would be changed and updated. Open since 1996, “they are looking to take it to the next level as a bistro,” Cowan said.
As for the lack of table service, attorney Patrick Howe said the service is designed to be similar to how it was at Cosi when they were in the city, “which was one of the first established in the city to get a bistro license. You order, pay and then take it to your seat. That's the plan. That's how Sam thinks it will work.”
In addition, Abdelfatah plans to make delivery to homes and businesses in Birmingham and Bloomfield of food and beverages “a big portion of the business,” Howe said.
“I'm excited about this, but...our bistro license says alcohol is only served to seated customers,” board member Janelle Whipple-Boyce said. “How does this work?”
“The intent is for everyone who is served is seated, after they order and pick up their alcoholic drink,” Howe said.
“For the last 24 years, Brooklyn has been an easy, fun spot, and we want to keep it that way,” Abdelfatah said. “Alcohol is a convenience for mom and dad. They order at the pizza counter or the bar and are served and pick up at the bar.”
The Birmingham City Commission will have the final approval at a later date.