Details on the length of the aisle, garbage removal and permits were discussed at length about a proposed food preparation business located in a residential area of North Hill.
The business, D & D’s Homemade Plates, will be operated by Donnell and Dawnelle Washington out of the couple’s home at 319 E. Edgewood Ave. several neighbors who have strongly opposed the business since it was presented to the city’s planning commission in April.
Donnell, who said he and his wife lost their jobs during the pandemic, would like to suggest new ways to help build the city.
“If it starts with food, it starts with food,” he said.
Dawnelle added that the city is dead and needs more variety besides pizza and spaghetti. The couple took orders over the phone and customers picked them up when they were ready.
They already have a shed with windows for pickup and payment, a stove, griddle, deep fryer, and a commercial refrigerator with plans in place for trash and grease removal. They said they started cooking for friends in the fall and were persuaded to consider opening a business. The Washington said they met a then-employee of the city’s code enforcement department who did not give them complete information about the permits needed to open a business.
“Your due diligence isn’t just about listening to two city employees,” Councilor Tim Fulkerson said of the permits. “Ignorance doesn’t just allow you to do what you want to do or build what you want to build in a residential area.”
The couple said they’ve already invested around $ 30,000 of their savings into purchasing equipment. They plan to be open weekdays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and would serve limited themed menus daily. Orders would depend on how quickly Donnell could pick them up, meaning there wouldn’t be a glut of traffic on the street, they said. The two will not hire additional employees.
A neighbor, Carol Sudziak, asked about customers walking back from Washington Alley onto the street and said she thought they were “putting the cart before the horse.” Chas Kahrer wondered if the couple should open a food truck instead, and Madeline Coiro said if approved it would set a precedent for zoning businesses in residential areas.
Meanwhile, Matt Bucceri, Dawnelle’s sister, said the activity would represent “a very low volume as far as a catering establishment”. He raised a similar takeout business, but not by name, which was approved for conditional use in a residential neighborhood a few blocks away. The Pacific Islander Company, an Asian food preparation company located at 424 Sumner Ave., was approved for conditional use in April.
Councilor MaryAnne Gavrile spoke of her time in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood, where businesses are scattered across residential areas. She pointed out that the VentiSei winery in the east side of New Castle was a business that could function well while being next door to houses – although neighbors showed up to council two years ago complaining about drunken customers and noise from the Wilson Avenue facility.
“In New Castle, we’re not used to having residences in our residential areas,” she said. “I have to think long and hard about it.”