By Bill Kirk
---- — In the end, it was much ado about nothing.
Toni and Rich Hadad, owners of the Ultimate Perk on Main Street in downtown Andover for the last 10 years, will continue with business as usual at the corner of Punchard Avenue.
Earlier this year, the Hadads approached the town for permission to increase the number of dining tables and seats it could set outside.
Town officials gave approval for a four outdoor tables and eight chairs on the condition that the Hadads obtain a variance from the state plumbing code for not having a public restroom.
The variance, however, was denied, leaving the Hadads with a potentially costly bathroom installation job. They brought their case to the Board of Selectmen last week.
Ultimate Perk was the first business in town to offer outdoor seating. The Hadads submitted their application before the advent of new rules requiring a bathroom for any eatery with tables and chairs — either indoor or outdoor.
“Ultimate Perk was always grandfathered for lack of a bathroom,” Building Inspector Chris Clemente said.
But when the business applied for the additional outdoor seats earlier this year, Clemente said it triggered a state review, which resulted in a denial of the variance.
Down the street, Fisichelli’s bakery, which recently opened, was not allowed to put in any seats — either inside or outside — because it doesn’t have a bathroom, Clemente said.
“(Fisichelli’s) decided to eliminate seats inside so they didn’t have to install a bathroom,” he said.
Clemente said if the Hadads maintain the same number of seats they have always had, they can continue to operate without a restroom.
Town Clerk Larry Murphy said while the Hadads can have a total of five tables and 10 chairs altogether, they can only put four tables and eight chairs outside at any given time, per their license.
Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Dave Brown recommended that going forward, the town install public seating areas along Main Street so that people can take their coffee and sit where they like.
Selectmen liked that idea, but said that in the meantime, the Hadads are in compliance.